WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO TELL KIDS ABOUT DIVORCE?
Like most parents who decide to divorce, you and your spouse likely made your decision without first informing your children of your plans. That’s understandable since your marriage is a personal, adult matter between the two of you. Perhaps, like many parents, you’re worried about how your children will take the news and how the situation is going to affect their lives.
There are some helpful tips for talking to kids about divorce. You know what’s best for your children, and your family’s circumstances are unique; however, many parents in similar situations have found that certain approaches generally work better than others when the goal is to help children cope and adapt to a new family situation. It’s a good idea to have contact information on hand for various family advocate groups should you or your kids need outside support.
It all starts with a single conversation
While you might be dreading it, you understand that, at some point, you and your spouse have to tell your kids you’re getting divorced. The following list includes tips on how to make that initial discussion run smoothly:
- Do it together. You can help buffer the potential shock of the situation if you and your spouse are both present when you inform your children of your impending divorce.
- Speaking to your kids together also lets them see that you are still going to be a parental team, even though you’ll live in separate households.
- You and your spouse might have some bad blood between you. Your children will fare better if you keep that to yourselves and avoid making negative comments about each other in front of them.
- The goal of your family talk is to provide basic information so that your children understand that they are only going to live with one parent at a time. It’s also important to stress that you both love them and will still be active in their daily lives.
- Many kids think they’re to blame for their parents’ divorce. Tell your children it is not their fault.
- Prepare to answer many questions as your children might worry about normal, everyday things, such as whether they will have to change schools or move to a new house.
If your kids witness you and your spouse doing your best to work together as a team for their sake, they are more likely to try to be cooperative and helpful as you all adjust to a new family dynamic.
Addressing problem issues
It’s natural for kids to cry or show anger upon learning that their parents are getting divorced. If this happens in your family, try to be calm and patient. Let your children know that you are not upset with them for how they feel. How you handle negative issues can greatly affect the ultimate outcome of your situation. Remember that you don’t have to handle every issue on your own, especially if a legal problem arises that violates your parental rights or your children’s best interests.