How you choose tell your kids about your divorce can shape how they handle the changes ahead and how they view relationships as they grow older. As a parent, you should try to make the situation as easy as you can for them.
Understanding the gravity of this conversation, it’s essential to be prepared and to approach it with the sensitivity it demands. Ideally, both parents should be emotionally and physically present to support their children during this major change.
Tell them as a team
Try to present the news using a united front with your ex, if possible and appropriate. This demonstrates that although you’re not staying together as a couple, you remain committed to co-parenting. When both parents are involved in the conversation, it helps mitigate feelings of insecurity or worry that the children may be harboring. It reassures them that they’ll still have the emotional and logistical support of both parents, even if those parents are no longer together.
Never make empty promises
Emotional conversations often tempt individuals to make promises just to alleviate immediate fears or concerns. While it’s natural to want to comfort your children, making promises you can’t keep will only harm their trust in the long run. Be cautious whether it’s assuring them they’ll stay in the same school or see the other parent every weekend. Make sure any promises made are ones you can and will keep.
Expect to answer questions
Expect a barrage of questions once you tell the kids the news. They may ask where they live, how often they’ll see each parent or even if the divorce is their fault. These questions are a natural part of their coming to terms with the news. Be as honest as possible, considering their age and emotional state. If you don’t have an answer to a particular question, it’s okay to admit it but assure them you’ll figure it out.
Discuss the changes they should expect
Discuss how their day-to-day lives may change. This includes discussing living arrangements, potential moves, or changes in how holidays will be spent. As you have this discussion, reassure them of your love. Ideally, you’ll have your basic parenting plan in place so you can provide them with concrete information at an uncertain time.
Seeking legal guidance proactively, therefore, is often a good idea as a lawyer can help to craft a parenting plan that is both workable and reflects your child’s best interests so that they can be more assured of their well-being moving forward.