So, the decision to dissolve the marriage has been made. Unfortunately, as difficult as this decision likely was, things are probably only going to get harder. For example, one of the most emotionally challenging moments you may face following your decision to get divorced is breaking the news to your children.
As you probably know, children are incredibly vulnerable when it comes to divorce, and many of them will seriously struggle to cope with this major upheaval in their lives. The moment in which you share with them that you are getting divorced is probably going to be one that sticks with them for much of their lives, and it is incredibly important that you handle it in a compassionate and appropriate manner. Thus, below we have outlined some important tips to help you tell your children you are getting divorce.
Please keep in mind that the manner in which you tell your children will oftentimes vary significantly based on their ages and temperaments. Additionally, this blog is not intended as legal advice for your specific circumstances. If you have questions about your unique situation, please contact our law office today.
1) Teamwork is key
For many couples, doing anything together after they’ve decided to get divorced can seem unthinkable. However, it will be far easier on your children if they hear it from both parents. Plan a time to sit down together with you, your spouse, and all of your children, and make sure you leave plenty of time for discussion. If only one spouse is there to tell the children about the impending divorce, it may immediately breed feelings that force the children to take sides or lead to assumptions that one parent is at fault. This is never healthy for your children, even if it is true that one parent is completely at fault. Try to put your emotions aside and work together to set the tone for the rest of your divorce with regard to your children.
2) Plan it out
Plan out with your spouse what you are going to say. Even if it seems like it is impossible to agree on anything anymore, you have to at least try for your children. Most experts agree that having a plan is much better than improvising. Cover what details you are going to disclose, and prepare how you will respond to specific questions. After you have a plan, agree to stick to it. When both parents are sending the same messages and signals, it is less confusing for your children and shows that you and your soon to be ex will both continue to be active in their lives.
3) Make sure to let your children feel
No two people will react the same to anything, and that includes children when they hear that their parents are getting a divorce. Be prepared for a wide range of potential reactions, and allow your children to process their emotions in a manner which is best suited to the unique person that they are. However, also be prepared for your children to struggle with the coping process. A divorce leads to a lot of confusing emotions which are oftentimes difficult for adults to process, much less children. It may be wise to look into counseling or other healthy outlets to help them adjust if you find that they are really struggling once you break the news.
4) Take questions and create an open dialogue
Your children may want to know everything from the “why is this happening” to “what happens next.” Be prepared that your children might want to know if they had anything to do with the divorce. Be reassuring and emphasize that it has nothing to do with them. Be open to their questions and answer as best as you can. Even if you do not wish to tell them certain things right away, it is better to be as honest as you can (within age-appropriate limits). Avoid giving them false hope in order to placate their current sadness, as this will just be worse for them in the long run.
If you have more questions about children and divorce, or you are in need of a strong and compassionate legal advocate to assist you with an impending divorce, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Kenneth J. Levey today.