Telling your children about your divorce may be one of the most difficult steps you have to take in the divorce process. You may not know what to say or expect when it comes time to tell them. But it is necessary to talk to your kids about the divorce and open a dialogue with them. They may have questions about how the breakup will affect themselves or the family; they may even wonder if they are still loved. Start the conversation with these tips.
You may feel angry at your ex, but it is important to cooperate and present a united front for your kids. This is not the time for accusations or arguments. The decision to divorce may not have been ambiguous, but do your best to show your children the divorce was a mutual choice. Make your kids feel confident that you and your spouse are still a team, even if your marriage is ending. This discussion is about your children’s needs and wellbeing, not your own pride.
Plan Your Words
Figure out what you’ll say ahead of time. Plan out your talk with your spouse, and decide what your key points will be. Decide if you’ll take turns talking, and who will present which point. Some points you could cover are:
- The divorce is not your child’s fault
- You and your spouse have been having problems, but you haven’t been able to fix it
- You love your children, and both parents are still there for them
- You will always be your kids’ parents, even if you aren’t married
- Things may change, but you’re still a family
Address the Whole Family
Unless you think your older children’s reactions will upset your younger children, try to tell the whole family the news at the same time. This can prevent one child from spilling the beans before you’re able to talk to your other children, and can keep feelings from being hurt at not being the first one told.
Expect Mixed Reactions
Children can be unpredictable. While you may foresee crying, confusion, and slammed doors, prepare yourself for unusual questions. Children are egocentric by nature, and they may be concerned with how these changes will affect their lives and interests before they worry for the entire family. Your children may need a hug or they may need space after the news, but you know them best. Give them what they need, whether it’s answers, comfort, or time alone.
Be There to Answer Questions
Be sure to remind your children during and after your conversation that you are there to answer any questions they have. It can take time to process the changes, and they may have questions as your family moves forward in the process. The first discussion of the divorce should open the door to later dialogue. Focus on starting an ongoing conversation, rather than an announcement. Respond to your children’s emotional needs, and don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t know something.
The changes divorce brings can feel impossible, but you can still work together as a family to get through them. Focus on including your children in the process, answering their questions, and working cooperatively with your ex. Just because your relationship is ending does not mean your family is, and remaining on good terms with your ex will help your children for years to come.
Your family deserves caring, experienced legal representation when it comes to family law matters. Our Newport Beach divorce attorneys have decades of experience handling complex cases, and believe in providing top-notch client service combined with knowledgeable advocacy. Our firm can help you with your divorce case, or any other family-related legal matters.
Contact Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP at (949) 565-4158 today to learn more.