You may have gotten your finances in order, found a new place to live or talked to your parents. But one step of divorce not to overlook in your preparation is deciding when and how to break the news to your children.
Your approach and timing can make a significant difference in how your children handle the divorce. Although your children’s ages and maturity levels influence what you say, the following tips are applicable to any family.
Sit down with your children
Informing of divorce is almost always best to do in person once the decision is firm. Both you and your spouse should gather all your children and share the news together. Explain what divorce means, not just in general but also specific to your circumstances, such as who will be leaving or how long it will take. Allow your children to ask any questions they have and answer them.
You do not need to go into details of the reasons for the divorce. You can confirm any suspicions if you wish, but only give them as much information as they need. Once the divorce has long been over and your children are old enough to understand the truth, you can reveal more. Be fair in expressing the roles you and your spouse both played in the ending of your marriage.
Keep communication open
After the initial conversation, let your children know they can always talk to either of you if they have more questions or need to process their feelings. Offer individual or family counseling if they do not feel comfortable coming to you.
One thing to remember is to reassure your children continually that it is not their fault. Even if their busy schedules, misbehavior or special needs contributed to family stress and conflict, they were not responsible for the divorce. Watch for signs of retreat or resentment. Do not take out your pain on your children, but rather go the second mile in showing them extra love and attention during this difficult time.