Deciding to end a marriage can involve difficult discussions between spouses, sessions with a counsellor, and countless phone calls with friends and family. But perhaps the most difficult conversation you have about divorce could be with your children.
Telling your children that you are divorcing can be incredibly difficult. However, there are some ways to make it a little easier to break the news to your kids and help them digest the information.
Talk to them together
If possible, parents should talk to their kids together. Presenting a united front from the beginning can reduce finger-pointing and ensure parents are delivering a consistent message.
Further, talking to children together can reinforce your commitment to parenting together throughout and following a divorce.
Consider their ages
Children can have different reactions to news of their parents’ divorce based on their ages. As this article explains, very young children have a limited understanding of concepts like divorce, and they can be easily confused. Keep your discussion simple and clear.
School-aged children understand more and are more likely to be worried about how the divorce affects them. Focus on reassuring them they will be cared for and loved the same as always.
Preteens and young teenagers may be more likely to get mad at parents and withdraw. Listen to their concerns, and make sure they know you are always there to listen to them.
Teenagers are more independent, and they worry about their parents, relationships and their own future. Keep this in mind and respect their input. Don’t make promises you cannot keep but consider discussing how the divorce may or may not affect their daily lives.
Commit to your kids
While you may be ending your marriage, you are not ending your roles as parents. Make sure your children know that a divorce will not sever the bond between them and either parent.
Do not force them to choose between parents. Set your differences as spouses aside and make every effort to be respectful and diplomatic so that it does not create added anxiety or stress for your kids.
Be there for them now and later
Every child is going to react to news of parental divorce differently. Whether your child is angry, bitter, confused or even happy about it, perhaps the best thing you can do as a parent is to listen to them and be available whenever they are ready to talk.
Telling your kids about divorce is not easy. However, these tips can help you and your children better navigate the discussion.