You are getting a divorce. And now you need to know how to tell your kids about your divorce.
Your kids are your heart and your soul. You would NEVER intentionally do anything to hurt them. So, telling them about your divorce isn’t something you want to do because you know it will hurt them.
Here’s the truth. Telling your kids about your divorce will hurt. The hurt will subside… not immediately, but soon.
How do you tell your kids about your divorce?
You need to consider the date, time, location, your words, and who is involved.
In an ideal situation, both parents are present when telling the kids and you know the basic goals for your divorce (i.e. who lives where and how much time the kids spend with each parent).
Neither parent blames the other for the divorce (even when infidelity has occurred). Why? Children love their parents and they want to love them. Give them the gift of love. If you spouse is a horrible human, I promise you that your child will eventually figure-out that fact (most likely sooner than later). For now, while we are telling them that their family is breaking-up, let’s not increase their stress and burden by telling them adult information.
Your kids will ask you (some will beg you) to know the details; don’t take the bait. Focus less on why you are getting a divorce. Focus more on how the future will look for them.
Kids are selfish by nature and they will want to know that the divorce means to their world. Where will they live? Be ready to answer that question. If you need to research parenting plans, click here to download my Parenting Plan Guide.
It’s okay to tell your kids that you are sad. They need to know it’s okay to be sad. But, don’t allow your emotions to play out to an extreme in front of them. In general, psychologists say that your child will deal with the divorce in the same way you do. So, if you are crying all the time, your child will also feel despair and depression. You are your child’s most significant role model. If you model that it’s okay to be sad, but you are also moving forward in a positive way, your child will likely model your behaviors and perspectives.
Your children need to know that you are still in control, able to take care of them, and that they are safe and loved.
When should you tell your kids? Be mindful to tell your kids about your divorce when they have time to process the news.
Tell your kids at your home. That way they can go to their bedrooms to have some private time.
Tell them you love them, again and again and again.
Most children will harbor a deep-seated fear that they caused the divorce. Look for those signs. Re-assure them, again and again, that they had nothing to do with the divorce.
In short, tell them you love them, make sure they know it’s okay to be sad, reassure them that they are safe, and tell them again you love them (because they can’t hear it enough during this turbulent time).
In next week’s blog, I’ll discuss children’s needs by age.
Click here to download my Parenting Plan Guide.
Click here to download my book, “Divorce Mediation in Oregon.”
If you want to schedule a consultation with me, click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation.