If you’ve made the painful decision to divorce, and have children, you may be wondering how to share the news with them – and how much difference the way you break the news makes.
In a 2002 clinical study of children and divorce, cited by Psychology Today, it was discovered that many kids remember, with excruciating detail, the moment when they were told that their parents were separating. In fact, the memory remained powerful long after the event itself was over. This suggest that, based on how you break the news, you can mitigate some of the trauma for your children – and preparation is the key. Below are some simple guidelines for how to prepare to tell your children about your divorce.
Have a Plan First
A well thought out plan for the future will be more reassuring to your family. So, don’t share the news with your kids until you have made a firm decision and developed a game plan regarding living arrangements and how daily life is going to run. Have your strategy organized and in place before you open up to the kids. Make sure that any necessary support people are in place and informed in advance. If it’s possible, troubleshoot your plan with a trusted friend or mentor. And, avoid unnecessary changes.
Allow yourself some private time to rehearse what you are going to say to your children, taking into account both their ages and personalities. Communicate with their other parent in advance so that, if at all possible, the message you both give them is a united one. Be deliberate in avoiding needless details and casting blame.
Finally, write down what you want to say. During a divorce, emotions run high. Leaving things unscripted makes you vulnerable to emotional upset, which is counterproductive. Again, if you have a trusted friend, mentor or pastor who can assist you, ask for their input. Thoughtful and careful preparation will help everyone handle things more calmly.
Choose the Best Time and Place
A Saturday or Sunday is usually preferable. Try to plan for a day when no other important events are scheduled so children will have time to be with you and absorb the news. If at all possible, Mom and Dad should both be present to speak with the kids together. Because many parents feel guilty about putting their children through a divorce, the knee-jerk reaction is to spend five or ten minutes in conversation and rush on to some other activity. This is a mistake. As parents, you owe it to your kids to take full responsibility for your decision.
Then give your children time to react, ask questions, and have your attention. At least one hour should be set aside for family members to be attentive and available to each other when sharing about the decision to divorce.
Find more information about children and divorce, and how you can help them through the transition on our blog.
At Bell and Bell Law Firm, your family matters. For over ten years, we have been assisting families just like yours successfully navigate the legal and personal challenges of separation and divorce. We are a small firm that takes pride in getting to know our clients individually. Let our experienced Charlotte divorce attorney team provide you with top notch legal advice in a warm, friendly atmosphere. At Bell and Bell, we understand what your family is going through, and we are here to help. Contact our office today to meet with a lawyer for divorce representation, or call 855-322-2355.