Getting divorce is one of the most difficult situations someone will deal with. The hardest part for many couples is telling the children. Knowing you have to tell your child that their life is about to change drastically is heartbreaking and frustrating. Here are some tips for telling your kids that you and your spouse are getting a divorce.
Don't talk about adult issues
You don't need to explain to your kids exactly why you are getting divorce. Divulging all of the indiscretions in your marriage isn't going to help your children. You don't want to say something that will upset or confuse your kids even further. Your kids don't understand marital problems, as they shouldn't. Keep the conversation child-friendly.
Tell your children together
Telling your children about the divorce separately isn't a good idea. You need to decide what you're going to tell them and do it together. If you don't, you kids may end up getting two different stories, which will only add to their confusion. Your kids may have questions for both of you, or just need both of you together. The conversation is something that your kids will remember for the rest of their lives and it needs to be done gently.
If you don't tell your children together, they might blame the absent parent for the divorce. You can't just say it was a mutual decision; you have to prove it by both being present. Knowing that it is something you both want will help your child.
Tell your children that it isn't their fault
You may think that it's obvious that the kids aren't to blame, but a child's mind works very differently. You kids may think that being bad or fighting drove one of their parents out of the home. Make sure your kids understand that the divorce has nothing to do with them and that they are loved very much.
Don't tell your kids at the last minute
Don't wait until one of you has packed your bags to tell your children that you are getting a divorce. Your kids will need time to process the information. Moving out right when you tell your kids will make everything move too quickly for them. Try to give them a couple weeks' notice. You have most likely been living together with serious problems for quite some time already, another two weeks won't hurt. (This is assuming abuse is not a factor.) Your kids will want as much time as possible with the parent that is moving out. Use this time to do special activities with your kids and keep communication lines open.
Focus on silver linings
While nothing is as good as having both parents in the home, let your children know about some of the perks to come. For example, talk about how they will get to have two houses and two bedrooms. Make it sound as fun as possible. Tell them about how they will get to have two birthday parties, two Christmases, and double of all the other holidays you celebrate. Taking the difficult time and making the changes sound positive will give your kids something to look forward to.
Talk about other divorced couples
If you have divorced friends and family members, discuss them with your kids. If they are old enough to know who celebrities are, talking about celebrity divorces might be a good idea too. Talking about other divorced couples will reassure your children that they aren't going through it alone. They will remember that there are many other people who have gone through the same experience and are still happy.
There is nothing you can tell your kids that will make them immediately okay with the life-changing news. However, these tips will make the discussion easier for them. Be honest without giving away too much detail. Making an appointment to start your kids in post-divorce therapy may help them as well.
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