There is no room to improvise when it comes to telling your children about your upcoming divorce. Thoughtful preparation is a must in order to minimize trauma, and to help your kids begin the transition to a new family structure. The previous post on children and divorce gave some hints about how to prepare. This post will explore the key statements you can use to help broach the subject with your kids.
Honesty with discretion is the best place to start. Once you’ve gathered everyone together, you can acknowledge that thing have not been going well. “Your Mom/Dad and I have been arguing a lot lately. We know it’s been hard for everyone. Things are just not working the way that they should …” Some key themes that need to be repeated are
This decision was between Mom and Dad and has nothing to do with you at all
You are not at fault and you are not responsible.
We are both very proud of you and will love you just the same as always.
We are both going to continue to be in your lives and care for you whenever you need us.
Because children are naturally egocentric, be prepared to spell out in detail how their daily life is going to unfold: school, friends, activities, holidays, and visits with your ex. Be ready with specific answers. This will tell them that Mom and Dad are still at the helm and looking out for their welfare, just as before.
If at all possible, share the responsibility of breaking the news to the kids with the spouse you’re divorcing. This helps your children in two ways. First, it guarantees that they are getting a consistent message from both parents. Secondly, it communicates that, when it comes to caring for their needs, Mom and Dad are united in their commitment to love and care for them, no matter their personal differences.
Set a tone that is calm and without rancor. This is not the time for blame or fault finding. Protect your kids from unnecessary trauma by choosing your words carefully, with a focus on offering them reassurance, not airing your grievances.
Anticipate a wide range of reactions from your children depending on their ages and personalities. Some kids will react immediately with tears. Others will just ask questions to ascertain how their world will be affected. Some may be relieved that tensions in the family will ease, while others will grieve their loss by withdrawing. Because you know your children best, it will be up to you to read their cues and offer loving support.
Remember, once you have told your children about your divorce, you have not ended a discussion. You have just initiated a continuing conversation. Be available, on an ongoing basis, to answer your children’s questions and be sensitive to their emotional needs. They will look to you to parent them through this transition.
At Bell and Bell Law Firm, we care about the welfare of your family and understand the challenges you are facing. Our goal is to provide you with knowledgeable counsel and personalized service from one of our full law partners. With over ten years of experience in divorce mediation, we can offer the guidance and support that will facilitate the best possible outcomes for you and those you love. And we promise to do this in a warm, friendly atmosphere where you are valued and supported throughout the process. Contact our office today to meet with a lawyer for divorce representation, or call 855-322-2355.