Tell Your Kids about Your Divorce the Right Way
You know that breaking the news to your children about your upcoming divorce isn’t going to be easy, but you don’t want them to find out by overhearing a conversation they shouldn’t, or being blindsided by the news on the day your spouse moves out of the house. By planning the conversation with your children’s best interests in mind, you can make this difficult conversation a good opportunity to reassure your children of their importance to you and your co-parent.
Choose a good time
Ask any number of adult children of divorce when their parents told them about the split, and they can tell you exactly when and where it happened. Unfortunately, this memory is vivid for many people because they found out on New Years’ Day or Easter Sunday, while the family was gathered for a holiday celebration. Rather than taint your child’s memory of a treasured holiday, choose a time when the child will have down time to process the news and doesn’t need to rush to school or a family gathering immediately afterward.
Write out what you’d like to say
Having your thoughts written down will help you stay on track during this emotional conversation, preventing you from ending up on finger-pointing tangents or from sharing more than your child needs to know about the breakdown of your relationship. Writing this out with your spouse, while difficult, will ensure that you are on the same page about how you wish for this conversation to go. If your spouse refuses to write this out with you, you might still want to send them a draft to give them an idea of how you want the conversation to progress.
Think about how you’ll answer hard questions
Inevitably, your kids will have a number of questions when you tell them that you and your spouse are divorcing. These questions may be about the relationship itself and why you and your spouse don’t want to stay married. They might also be logistical questions about where the children will live, whether they’ll have to switch schools, or whether they’ll get to visit with the other parent regularly. Think through the answers you’ll have to these and other questions, and take the opportunity to remind your children how dear they are to both of you.