Breaking the news to your kids: Honey, we’re getting a divorce.
Here are three simple steps to take into account before telling your kids about the divorce. Although every situation differs, these general tips can help ease the process and smooth out the transition.
1. Wait To Tell The Kids
Wait to tell the kids until you have already filed for divorce, found a new home for the parent who is moving out, have furnished it and have a concrete move-in date. This is easier said than done, but doing so makes the transition much easier on the kids.
Dr. Jenn Mann, PhD, psychotherapist, and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids says, “Children should not be involved with the process, the decision-making, or the conflict. Not knowing what happens next or when is too anxiety-provoking for children. They need to be presented with a completed and specific plan. It is best if the parents can be a unified front and tell the kids together without blaming one another. Also, if you have more than one child, it’s best to tell all the children together and then discuss age specific issues with children one-on-one. It’s not good for one child to have to hold a secret from their siblings until a parent tells other kids.”
2. Reassure The Kids
Reassure your kids that it’s not their fault for the divorce. Children will naturally be curious and look for reasons why their parents are getting divorced. “If I didn’t argue with my sister all time…” or “If I had gotten better grades, this wouldn’t have happened” will frequently cross their minds. Open up the conversation for them and let your kids have the opportunity to share feelings and ask questions. Continue to assure them it is not their fault.
3. Don’t Take The Divorce Anger Personally
Don’t take the anger personally. It’s in everyone’s best interest if both parents can say the divorce was a mutual decision. Blaming one parent will only garner anger, confusion, and distrust. If the divorce is the result of an affair, it is still best to leave the children out. The more you can protect them from salacious, grown-up material the better.
Involving your kids in the divorce is tough, but unavoidable. It’s always a good idea to be prepared before breaking the news to them. If the children are having a hard time with it, consider talking with their teachers and seeing a relationship therapist. This may be as equally hard on parental relationships as it is spousal, so try to be as understanding and available as possible.
If you need help co-parenting, check out this article on helpful apps.