The way that you tell your children you’re going to get divorced can have a big impact on how they process this information. Doing it thoughtfully can help things go smoothly and make it easier for the children. Missteps in this conversation can just create new issues that you’ll have to deal with moving forward, potentially making things a bit harder.
Of course, you know that you have to have this conversation eventually. How can you do it in a way that puts your children first? Here are a few key tips to keep in mind.
Focus on reassurance
Your goal should not just be to tell the children about the divorce, but to reassure them that you love them. You’re there for them, and so is their other parent. You will both still be caring for them and be involved in their lives. While this may not be possible in 100% of cases, it should be the focus for most parents who are getting divorced.
Have the conversation as a family
Even though your family life is changing, this conversation should be had by everyone at once. Both you and your spouse should be there to talk to the children, if possible. If you have multiple children, they should all be there to learn this news at the same time. This way, the children don’t find out second hand and they know that both of their parents still care for them.
Consider when you’ll tell them
Try to find an ideal time to talk to the children. Don’t do it if the schedule is tight – such as when they are about to leave for school or you are about to leave for work. Ideally, pick a stress-free time where you can talk for as long as needed.
Ask the children for their opinions and questions
Finally, parents are sometimes so focused on themselves that they won’t think about what the children want to say. You should ask the children if they have any questions or how they’re feeling about the whole situation. Let them talk and express themselves, and if they need some space before voicing their concerns, that’s okay too.
This conversation will probably just be one of the first steps in the divorce process. Take the time to look into what legal steps come next by seeking legal guidance proactively. Making this effort may even help you to inform your older children of some specifics that they can expect moving forward.