How To Talk To Your Kids About Divorce/ Separation
Talking to your children about your separation plans is one of the most difficult and emotional discussions you’ll ever have. When you know you’re about to separate or divorce, it’s crucial to tell your children before they hear it from someone else.
Consider how unpleasant hearing it from a friend or another adult would be! Children will most likely remember this talk, including what you say and when and where they heard it. It is advisable to consult with your partner about how you will notify them.
Make a list of what you intend to say.
Protect your children from your hurt or anger by arranging (as a family) when, how, and what you will tell them. Plan to tell them on a day when you can spend time with them as a family, such as a weekend. It should not be done on a holiday or other special day, or right before school or bedtime.
If it’s particularly difficult for you to communicate with your husband, or if you can’t agree on how to proceed, consider hiring a mediator, divorce coach, or counselor to help you hash out the details. Don’t say it out of the blue in an emotional moment. That’s not going to work!
Talk to your kids as a family.
This may be difficult, but it demonstrates to your children that you are devoted to cooperating as their parents. It’s also critical that your children hear this news at the same time and straight from mom and dad, rather than through the sibling who heard it first. So, if your children are of varying ages, plan to communicate fundamental facts with all of them at the same time
. You can follow up with the older children later in a different conversation. If you can’t do it jointly due to safety or conflict concerns, then seek assistance in establishing your plan.
Create a non-blaming story.
Avoid assigning blame or stating who is “to a fault” for this. You may feel compelled to inform your children of the “truth”—”Mom had an affair,” or “Dad is leaving us.” This will make your children feel caught in the middle, trapped in a loyalty bind, which is unhealthy for them. The “truth” is less important than providing your children with the support and reassurance they require.
When expressing the decisions that have been made, utilise the word “we” as much as possible. “We’re not happy together,” or “We both want our squabbling to stop,” or “We’ve attempted to sort out our differences but haven’t been successful.”
Explain to your children why this is happening.
It is not necessary, or even appropriate, for you to share specific details about why you are considering divorce. Your children, on the other hand, will be curious as to why this is happening. Older children will need information in order to comprehend why their lives will change. So, while you don’t want to divulge personal information, be prepared to provide a generic explanation without blaming.
“We thought it wouldn’t come to this, but we can’t seem to mend our relationship.” “We each have distinct goals in life.” “We enjoy and want to be friends with each other, but we don’t love each other anymore.” Keep in mind that these are adult issues that your children are dealing with.
Explain to your children what will change and what will remain the same.
The most crucial thing your children want to know is how your divorce will affect their life. Your children will want to know where they will live, with whom they will live, and what aspects of their lives will alter. You can help your children prepare for these transitions by being open and honest about what you know and don’t know.
If you and your partner have decided on a timetable for spending time with the kids, share it with them. Reassure them about the things that will remain constant, such as their school, friends, sports, or other activities. Make it a point to tell them how much you adore them.
Tell your children which parent will be leaving the house.
Unless you intend to nest, the more information you can provide your children about where the departing parent will be living and when they will see him or her, the better. They’ll need to know right away that they’ll be able to keep a good relationship with both parents despite the fact that they won’t be living under the same roof. “Under two roofs, we’re still a family.”
The key is reassurance.
Your children will require a great deal of reassurance that the divorce is not their fault. Emphasize that nothing they did could have caused – or prevented – what is happening. Because there are so many unknowns at the start of a divorce, don’t make promises you might not be able to meet. Unless you are positive, don’t promise that you will never have to relocate or that they will continue to attend sleep-away camp in the summer.
Instead, keep to the promises you can make in the present: “You will still attend to your school,” or “You will still have Christmas, birthdays, and sleepovers with your pals.” Assure them that it would be difficult at first, but that “we will all be fine after we are used to the new arrangement.”
Our children’s reactions are very typical.
The news may (or may not) be wholly unexpected, but it will undoubtedly alter their life. Try to be as understanding of no reaction—which is a reaction—as you would be if they were crying or really upset. Your youngsters may be unable to articulate their strong feelings. They may become overburdened and shut down. It may take some time for them to convey their emotions.
If you inform your children calmly, they will be less anxious and more inclined to believe that everything will be well. It is, however, OK for the children to see you unhappy or crying because it gives them “permission” to have feelings as well.
Just make sure you can regulate your emotions well enough that they don’t need to look after you. Remember to tell them that everyone in the family will adjust to and heal from the changes.
Invite them to ask questions (but don’t force them).
Some children are reluctant to speak up right immediately. Others will have a lot of questions. Be honest and clear in your responses to the best of your ability. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them you’ll get back to them as soon as you do. This is only the beginning of a conversation that will expand in a variety of ways throughout time.
Inform them that they can always ask new questions as they emerge. However, be certain that you don’t involve them in any legal technicalities of the divorce.
Allow them some time to adjust to the news.
It will take time for you and your children to adjust to this significant shift, and while you may be confident in the future you envision for them, it will take time for them to see that future unfold. Meanwhile, remain emotionally present and reassuring. Modeling your own healing and recovery over time will assist them in adapting and healing as well.