Breaking the News: 5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Divorce
Did you know that approximately 75% of divorcing parents talk about this change with their children for less than 10 minutes total? That's crazy! For a significant change that affects the family dynamic, only 25% of parents allow children the time they need to make a healthy adjustment. Your kids need to talk about it, even if they resist at first. We have some suggestions to help you talk to your kids about your divorce.
The best plan is to tell your children about the separation 2-3 weeks before it happens. Follow this basic plan for the better results:
- You and your spouse want to talk to your children as a unified team. Show care and concern for your kids' well-being and don't lose your temper with one another. Don't place blame on either parent. Children need to know that they are free to love both parents without betraying the other. By accepting equal blame in the eyes of your children, you save them maladjustment and pain.
- Talk to teachers a day before you tell your kids so they can be prepared for your child's change in mood or actions. Make sure they will be discreet and sensitive, not bringing it up in front of your child unless they mention it first.
- Talk to your child on a weekend when nothing else needs to be done so they have time to grieve while you're around to support them. Also, take great care in choosing where you tell them, as it's been proven that kids remember that moment forever, like a trauma. You want to make it as painless as possible.
- Make sure to get these points across, both in the first conversation and again over the coming months:
- This is not a decision made lightly. It was a last resort after trying for a long time to make things better.
- Children can love both parents without feeling disloyal.
- This adult decision was not caused by anything your child said or did, and they cannot prevent the split by acting extra nice.
- You'll still be a family, just with some changes. You still love them and will be involved in their lives.
- What they're feeling is normal – angry, said, worried, or even curious about what the future will bring. No matter what they're feeling, you're there to listen and help them through it. If you get choked up or cry while telling them, that's okay. It acknowledges that this is a sad and tough situation for everyone, and you'll get through it together.
- If at all possible, give your children details about any changes like who will be moving out and where. Feel free to invite your kids to look at houses or apartments with you or bring them to see a place you've already picked out. If they don't want to go, don't force them. Let them know that they will still see both parents and tell them anything that will remain the same, like who drives them to school, so they have an assurance of stability.
Divorce is difficult for both you and your kids. The family law attorneys at The FAB Law Firm, LLC, can help make the transition easier. Call us for a free 15-minute phone consultation today at 800-322-9467.