Having a conversation with your children about your divorce can be very hard, but is necessary. A good time to tell your kids about the divorce is when all the major decisions have been reached such as issues about housing and physical custody schedules. It is best if both parents are present, but that is not always possible. If you cannot do it together, make sure that the other parent knows the conversation is happening and what has been communicated in hopes that the other parent share similar information.
The following are a few things to keep in mind prior to speaking to your kids. Make sure your emotions are in check. For example, if they see you crying, this may make them have the same reaction. Be sure that your conversations are age appropriate. For younger kids, be sure to let them know how much they are loved by both their parents. Always make sure that you are not talking negatively about the other parent. Remember coparenting is an important role in the divorce process. Assure the children that it is not their fault that you are getting divorced. Remind the kids that they are loved by both of you, and things are just going to be a little different. Explain to them that they will still have routine and structure, it will just look a little different. For example, their friends, sports, and activities will remain the same. Be conscious of their feelings- they may be sad, scared, or upset, but this is all normal. Reassure them of your love for them. Older kids will be able to understand the process easier, but they also need to hear how much you love them.
The children may have questions, leave out the details about the divorce. Do not talk bad about the other parent to the child. Older kids also need to know that this divorce is not their fault. Let them know that they are loved by both parents and will continue to be loved by both parents. It is important that you do not share any details about the divorce or any of your written communication with your coparents. Be cognizant of the fact that children have access to social media and do not use the platform as a place to put your ex on blast.
When you say something bad about your ex in front of the kids, it automatically puts the kids in the middle and you want to avoid that scenario. This is called triangulation and it can lead to emotional and mental health issues for the child. Regardless of how you feel about your ex, the children are a product of both parents. Saying something negative about your co-parent can make the children feel negative about themselves.
Some things you can tell them are:
- We have made a choice to divorce because we think it is best for our family.
- We will work together to take care of you.
- Each parent will continue to have an important role in your life.
- You will have two homes where you will be loved.
Encourage your kids to ask questions if they have any.