Telling the children that you’re getting divorced is no easy thing to do, and it’s not a discussion you want to enter into lightly. You can make the process a little easier for you and for them if you follow a few simple guidelines.
First and foremost, be honest and provide them with love and support. Keep a unified parental front and avoid the blame game:
For your children to continue to feel secure, set clear and mutually agreed upon expectations. Setting these boundaries early on will send clear messages about your divorce and its subsequent transitions. This also avoids confusing the children when they hear conflicting messages from their parents. Choose your words carefully when you talk about your ex to the kids and try to keep seeing the kids together on special occasions. A family meal once a week, if possible, will work wonders in helping your children cope during this period.
Avoid giving them all the details.
Divorce is an adult topic, so although you need to be open and honest with your children, there’s no need to unload all the details. Children will have a hard time understanding what it is you’re talking about or you can unwittingly make your children resent you for a number of reasons: Tell them only what they need to know, be honest and sincere.
Make sure they know it’s not their fault.
When explaining your reasons, make it external to both of you and something that they can live with. Use reasons like “we grew apart” or “we just don’t get along as a couple”. For their well-being to remain intact, that’s all they need to know.
Timing is everything.
Tell the kids at a time when you and your ex are ready to support the kids no matter how they end up reacting. If possible, arrange a support system for them from other family members. Tell the school, but avoid telling them before an important exam or event. Time it carefully.
Be specific when telling your kids what they can expect in the future such as school and living arrangements. Give them definite information and without making promises that can’t be kept. Having clear expectations that are then put in motion will help to relieve their anxiety.
Your kids are always watching you. Your anxiety will create their anxiety. Being out of control will only cause them to be out of control. You are all grieving, and that’s ok and it’s normal. Continue to be there for your kids. At the end of the day, they need you.
If you need to formalise this process or are seeking legal advice please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
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