How To Tell Your Kids You Are Getting Divorced
Telling your children you are getting divorced will be tough on everyone.
Divorce is complicated and can be incredibly difficult to understand for anyone, but particularly young children. They don't know anything about the emotional difficulties you can face in a marriage; as far as they know, marriage is about two people who love each other and will always be together. But sadly, this is not always the case; sometimes marriages simply don't work out for whatever reason, and the people that are affected most by divorces are always the children. It may not seem that way now, but a divorce can have a lingering impact on a child for many years—right up until adulthood. This is why it is important to explain divorce clearly, honestly and carefully.
Don't Tell Them Until You Are Sure
If you are thinking of getting a divorce, don't tell the kids until you are certain because if you don't, the fact that this hasn't happened will only confuse them and make things even more difficult to understand. Wait until someone is moving out or papers have been signed before involving kids.
Don't Go Into Too Much Detail
Keep your explanation about divorce simple; kids don't need too much detail when it comes to things like divorce because the more they know, the more confused they will be. They are just children; they don't need to know the intimate details of what has gone wrong. They are too young to process that kind of thing. Just let them know that things have been going a bit wrong and you have been fighting a lot, so you're going to live apart and see if that makes you happier people.
Make It Clear That It's Not Their Fault
There will be questions swimming through their head about your divorce, but they might not ask you them. One of these questions will almost certainly be, "Is this my fault?" You need to answer this before they ask it; make it plainly obvious that it is not their fault and that you are doing this to be better parents who are not fighting all the time.
In fact, try to avoid blaming anyone for the divorce. Whether it is someone else's fault or not, they don't need to know this. Speaking badly of your spouse could cause major problems between them and their child, and as much as they might have hurt you, it is not fair to manipulate your child into disliking them.
Don't Mislead Them
Don't tell them that you are just spending some time apart if you know there is no chance of reconciliation. This is unfair to your child because it gives them false hope. Be honest about getting a divorce because confusing them with lies will only cause trust issues.
Let Them Know They Are Your Priority
They will wonder where they will live, what will happen to them, and when they will see the other parent.These are legitimate concerns and they need to be addressed. Try to keep things as normal as possible to prevent too much upheaval.
Use "We" Not "I"
Your child still thinks of you as parents, and parents need to put up a united front—even if there are secretly feelings of hostility. Your child needs to think that this divorce has been a mutual decision, even if it hasn't.
Don't Badmouth the Other Parent
No matter how much you might want to, don't say horrible things about them in front of the child. And this includes on the phone where they might overhear you. Look around before you start to talk, just to make sure that they are not eavesdropping. Just because you are getting a divorce doesn't mean you have to resort to trashy behavior.
Kids Don't Understand Divorce
Kids are more resilient than we think, but divorce is hard on them. It may be hard on you too, but you understand everything that is going on better than they do so they need you to be strong and sensible for them.