What Is the Best Way to Break the News about Divorce?
Telling your children about your divorce is one of the most dreaded aspects of ending a marriage. In most families, children do not want their parents to divorce and hearing that the family is breaking apart can be a destabilizing moment. However, it’s a fact that the continued stress and conflict can be more detrimental to children than the divorce itself. This doesn’t mitigate the fact that breaking the news is a tough moment for both children and parents.
Telling Your Children about Your Divorce: Guidelines for Breaking the News
Experts at parents.com suggest the following guidelines for telling your children about your divorce. Following them can make divorce go more smoothly.
- Both parents should tell the children together. Even when one parent initiates the divorce and it isn’t a joint decision, both parents should tell the children at the same time. Parents should present themselves as confident that they will both continue to work together to foster their children’s emotional well-being. Let your children know that during and after divorce you will be there to nurture and guide them. Use “we” in your explanation as much as possible, which shows you are both committed. This is the first step for assuring them about continued co-parenting.
- Plan ahead what to say. It is best to have a plan. Each parent can decide which talking points or questions they will address. Children need to be told that the divorce is not their fault and did not result from anything they did. Point out that you will still be a family and that you will always be their mom and dad. Remind them that you love them and emphasize that divorce will never change that fact. Furthermore, explain that you have tried to fix your problems with each other but it did not work out.
- Tell all the children at the same time. You don’t want to have one child learn about the divorce from a sibling. However, there are instances where if one child will upset the other, it may be better to tell each child individually. After all the children know about the divorce, you can also follow up with talking to each one separately.
- Be ready for reactions to the news. It is natural for children to be self-centered, and they will want to know how the divorce will affect them. Will they still have a birthday party, go to the same school, or be able to keep their friends? One child may cry and another child may become angry and yell. Some children withdraw and hide in their room. That said, be ready for whatever happens and treat them with kindness and understanding.
- Answer your children’s questions. If your children have questions, answer them as best you can. Be honest with the answers you give them. Also, let them know when you do not know the answer.
Do You Have Questions About Divorce?
Children are not the only ones with questions about divorce. Parents need answers too. If you are contemplating divorce, our lawyers at Richardson Brown are glad to answer your questions and help you evaluate your concerns.