When you are considering a divorce, one of the most difficult issues you will face is how to tell your children. No one gets married and has children with a plan that they will someday want a divorce, but it happens. And when the inevitable end of your marriage is looming, you will want to make the transition as smooth as possible for your children.
As with the co-parenting plan that will be set forth as part of the divorce process, if circumstances permit and are safe, it is often best for your children if you and your spouse can work together to come up with your plan to inform your children. We've outlined some guidelines for telling them below. You may also consider working with a therapist if you have unique circumstances or just can't come up with the right approach. Most, if not all, children going through a divorce can also benefit from some type of therapy or outside support.
In an article published in Psychology Today, there are seven steps outlined that may offer some helpful guidance.
- Learn to manage your own emotions so you will be in the best shape to talk to your children.
- Understand the meaning of divorce for your children's maturity level.
- Schedule a planning meeting with your spouse and come up with a plan on what to say and when to say it, again, assuming this is a safe and appropriate option for your family.
- If you can't work together, then develop your own approach.
- Tell your kids the news.
- Listen, acknowledge and accept your children's feelings and respond appropriately.
- Follow through with strategies to remain in touch with your children and sensitive to their feelings in the weeks and months ahead.
We know that it will not be easy to tell your children that you are getting a divorce. You can do it - with a little preparation and contemplation. Someday your children will thank you for taking the time to be considerate of them throughout this very difficult process. Remember, the divorce is not just about you and your spouse. While this is a difficult time for you, it is just as challenging and uncertain, perhaps even more so, for your children.