Depending on their age and your situation, the children may sense that things aren’t right, but, still, when it’s time to tell them you and your spouse are getting a divorce, keep these 5 things in mind. Children are likely to think that they’re part of the problem – or that they can get you back together – making sure that they understand that it is your adult problem will help the entire family.
1. Do It Together. You may no longer be a couple, but you are both still parents. Telling the children that you are going to separate or divorce together sends a better message. They can see that you can still work together for their sake. Make sure that you and your soon-to-be-ex are on the same page so that you both give the children the same explanation. Both parents should control their behavior so the children are reassured and not frightened. Hugs and kisses for the kids – from both of you – will help.
2. No Blame Game. When a couple reaches the point of divorce, it is very likely that both parties are pointing fingers at the other’s behavior. Even if you feel you are the wronged party, be civil and keep it to yourself. The children have to deal with the fact that their home life is changing radically – don’t make them deal with your anger too.
3. Don’t Deny The Beginnings. Your love may have died, but let the children know that at one time you and your spouse loved each other – and that they are part of that love. Let them know that things change – people change – but reassure them that the family was and is important to you both. It’s OK to say that you thought marriage would be forever and that you are sad for the whole family. Make sure the children know that both parents still love them.
4. Keep It As Simple As Possible. Again, the age of the children weighs heavily on this, but children of any age don’t need to know all the gory details. Stick to non-accusatory facts. Try something along the lines of that you have had problems, tried to fix them, but it didn’t work so you feel everyone will be better off if you live separately instead of arguing.
5. Discuss The Future. You may not have worked out all the details, but share the things that you know are going to happen. For example, let them know if one of you will be moving out and approximately when. Tell them Dad will pick them up from school some days and have some special time with them. If you know where the children are going to live, let them know. Tell them they’ll stay in their home or that they will share time with both parents in two different places. Reassure them that you want to keep their lives as normal as possible. They’ll want to know if they’ll still see their friends or if they continue on their soccer team.
Divorces that involve children are often the most difficult. Custody decisions will have to be made. Financial decisions may be more difficult. One of the first things you should do is seek the help of an experienced divorce lawyer. You’ll get the advice you need to protect your rights, protect the children’s rights and help with finding the best decisions. Having a lawyer at your side is having the help and support you need in a difficult time.