For many divorcing couples, the most heartbreaking part is worrying about how the split will affect the kids. The divorcing adults may understand that this is for the best, but children may only see the immediate effect: a breakdown of the family. When it comes time to tell the kids about the divorce, keep the following in mind.
- Plan it out with your ex beforehand. Even if you detest your ex with the fiery rage of a thousand suns, you need to find a way to put that aside when it comes to breaking the news to your kids. Sit down in the same room with your ex and plan out exactly what you want to say and what details you may want to leave out.
- Be definitive. If you aren’t completely sure that you and your spouse are getting a divorce, don’t have this talk! When things are up in the air, this is usually more upsetting than the finality of divorce, which can come as a relief to kids with unhappy parents.
- Avoid blame. No matter who did what that led to the dissolution of the marriage, keep that miles away from the kids. That’s between the two of you.
- Take the high road. Stay away from snarky, sarcastic digs at your spouse while you’re having this talk. Be an adult.
- Stick to the facts. Be as honest as possible about why Mom and Dad aren’t together anymore. “We work better separately rather than together.” “We tried to make it work, but we aren’t happy in this relationship together.” And be honest, explaining the situation in an age-appropriate manner. Admit things will be different going forward, but everything will be okay.
- Reassure your kids that your kids that they are loved, and you are still a family. “Things might be changing, but we both love you so much. We’re still your parents, still Mom and Dad, just not husband and wife anymore.” Make it clear that this is the best choice for the family, that staying together while unhappy sets a bad example for the kids.
- Go in with no expectations. Each kid reacts differently to the news. Some older or more perceptive kids see it coming. Others are surprised, and react with sharp emotions. With multiple children, one may try to be strong for the sake of the others.
- Keep the conversation going. This is the first of many talks you’ll have with your kids about the state of the family. Consider counseling, either with the parent or just the child separately. Answer any questions they have as honestly as possible, while still sticking to the ground rules both parents agreed upon.
Our Denver divorce attorneys understand that divorce can overwhelm a family. We take care of the legal stuff so you can focus on the next stage of your life.