How do I tell my kids? How is this going to affect them? These are reasonable thoughts running through the minds of every parent going through a separation or divorce. While telling your children that you’ve decided to divorce is difficult, you should always be as honest as possible but also appropriate.
United Front: Cooperate & Be Civil
It is best if both parents can be present but if remaining civil with each other will be an issue then having one parent tell the kids may be the best option. The child’s age can be a huge factor in what they are capable of understanding. Parent’s should never bash the other spouse or get into unpleasant facts that often accompany divorce. Children need to know why the divorce is happening but any dirty details or bashing of the other spouse should be left out. Remember, some damage cannot be undone so be selective and plan ahead of time what you will tell the child. Children should also be provided with information regarding how their life structure is going to change.
- Which parent are they going to live with?
- When will they see the other parent and under what conditions (i.e. Is supervised visitation involved)?
- Are they going to have to move into a new home?
- How often will they get to see the other parent?
- Is it possible they may have to change schools in the future?
- If their living situation is going to change, when will it begin?
- How will this change their extracurricular activities?
- Will they still see their friends
Being open and honest with your kids is good but always consider the effect every choice you make will have on them emotionally.
Keep It Simple
Be choosy with your words and keep things short. Having a long drawn out discussion might result in letting some harmful information slip out. Again, it cannot be reiterated enough, once it’s out there you cannot take it back.
Seek Outside Help
Often, with older kids, the news of divorce may not be as surprising. Take extra precaution with young children. If affordable, counseling can help children (especially, younger ones) cope and adjust. Divorce is a major change in a child’s life.
Let Us Reiterate…
Try to consistently remind yourself that all of your words and actions will have an impact on them. No matter how embittered and tough the road of divorce can be, always try to put your children at the forefront of your mind and this will help to minimize the long-term effects it will have on them.