If you are thinking about getting a divorce, chances are that you’ve already got a lot on your mind. It’s easy to have so much focus on preparing documents and making arrangements with your family lawyer that you might not know how to break the news to your children easily.
Naturally, the age of the children plays a huge role in how dramatic it will be for them to hear that their parents are getting a divorce. The nature of the relationship between the parents (or lack thereof) might make the separation necessary, but it may nonetheless not be easy for the children to understand how it will affect them specifically. It is this ‘fear of the unknown’ that plagues many separating parties at this difficult time and it is important to realize that the children of the relationship are feeling similarly.
It’s for this reason that it’s a good idea to take some time to carefully consider how you are going to explain your divorce to your kids.
The best approach to talking with your kids depends on their age and the specific circumstances of your relationship. While very young kids may not be able to understand the concept, older children can be remarkably perceptive.
It’s important to handle your own emotions during this talk and not let yourself either place blame or unknowingly manipulating your children into placing blame. If you use this time to vent feelings of anger, resentment or disappointment, it will likely have a detrimental consequence on the child’s ability to come to terms with the news.
Break the news softly and remember to listen to what they have to say after hearing the news and be open to acknowledging their emotions. It may be necessary to reassure them that they will still be loved and cared for, regardless of the change in outward circumstances.
Depending on the nature of the divorce, it may be best to tell the children together with your spouse or partner. If so, make sure you plan the discussion out and decide what each party will contribute to the conversation to keep it balanced and presented fairly.
Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Getting some help from a therapist or counsellor can be a necessary step to help your kids cope with the changes. Having a professional to give ongoing feedback and to be a willing ear can be very important for a child going through an uncertain time. The children may need a neutral third party to speak to on an ongoing basis as well, once they have received the news of your separation.
You may also wish to ask your family lawyer for advice, as they have been involved in many similar cases and can have some valuable suggestions, or referral to a family counsellor who is familiar with these situations.
With a bit of planning and with an open mind to make sure your kids’ needs are taken care of, you will be able to break the news in a way that helps keep them optimistic for the future and with the knowledge that they are not being abandoned or alone in the process.