How To Tell Your Kids That You’re Getting a Divorce
The divorce of one’s parents is a memorable moment for any child not only because it is a major change, but because it is a major change in the foundation that their life has been built upon – family. Your children might have heard stories about divorce from their friends. They may have noticed that you are not getting along with your spouse, or they may have heard you arguing.
However, even if they know that something is wrong in your household, they may still be surprised that their parents are divorcing. So, the way in which you tell your children that you’re getting a divorce is very important, but the way in which you conduct yourselves afterwards is even more so.
Keep the following four concepts in mind when you are telling your children about your divorce:
1. Be United
You were united when you got married. So, you must also be united in your divorce. It is important that one parent does not appear like the villain, while the other appears like a victim. Even if one person’s actions led to the decision to divorce, it is important that the children do not know this. Pointing fingers creates animosity towards the parent that is supposedly at fault. However, if your children do know, be sure to reiterate that the choice to divorce was mutual. It is also important that in years to come you continue to respect each other, which means never “bad mouth “ one another in front of the children.
If possible, tell the children about the divorce together because it further demonstrates that you are united in your decision. Then, allow them to ask questions. Remember to be respectful of one another when you answer them.
2. Set Expectations
If it is not a trial separation and you never plan on getting back together, let your children know this up front. Be honest. If not, they’re likely to have some glimmer of hope that one day you will get back together, which causes disappointment later on when one of you has a girlfriend or boyfriend.
3. Let Them Know They Are Loved
It is crucial that your children know that you are divorcing each other, not them. Now, more than ever you have to provide emotional support since the structure of the family is changing. Also, make sure they know that they don’t have to choose or favor one parent over another.
4. Nobody Takes a Parent’s Place
Last, make sure that your children know that if you do have a girlfriend or boyfriend, no one is going to replace their mother or father. Anyone new that enters your life is merely an addition to the family, not a replacement.
Written by: Nichole Hill, Community Facilitator
About the Author:
Nichole Hall is a community facilitator for the social business, BIYA-TUU. She’s been counseling people for many years, especially children. She is the daughter of divorced parents and two sets of divorced grandparents. She has become an expert on managing the rift between divorced and separated families.