You are getting a divorce and your spouse was awful to you. One of my favorite lines is from a client, “my lying, cheating, lazy, alcoholic, financially unreliable, ignorant, sex-grinch of a wife/husband…” If any, or all, of these attributes identifies your feelings toward your former spouse, it’s understandable that you feel wronged and that you know EXACTLY why you are getting a divorce.
So, when your kids ask why you are getting a divorce, you have a laundry list to tell them. But should you?
The answer is no.
Children love their parents and they want to love them. Give them the gift of love. If your spouse is a horrible human, I promise you that your child will eventually figure-out that fact (most likely sooner than later).
“Be careful about overindulging the ‘why.’ Children do not need to hear about the boyfriend or girlfriend or any other behavior that blames the other parent.” How to Talk to your Children About Divorce by Jill Jones-Soderman and Allison Quattrocchi.
Instead, try these statements:
“We loved each other when we were married, but we’ve grown apart.”
“We still very much care about each other, but we will no longer be living together.”
“We aren’t doing this to make things worse, but to make things better.”
“We know you want us to stay together, but we cannot remain together and be happy.”
“We have thought about this for a long time. It was not an easy decision.”
If you are the spouse who doesn’t want the divorce, then answering the kids’ “why” will be even harder for you. You will want to scream from the top of your lungs that you are the aggrieved party. It feels amazing to tell your truth and blame the other spouse, but is that what is best for the kids? Nope.
Why? Because we don’t want our precious children to bear the realities and consequences of the divorce AND then also have to take care of a parent. It’s too much for them.
You also need to be mindful to tell your kids you love them (again and again) and that they are not the reason for the divorce. I suggest:
“We are not doing this because of anything you have done.”
“We are not divorcing you.”
“We will each be your parents forever.”
“This is our problem and has nothing to do with you.”
“We are still a family, just a different kind of family than before the divorce.”
If you need help telling your kids about your divorce, check-out my blog entry on the topic by clicking here.
If you want to learn more about divorce mediation, 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.