No parent wants to tell their children that their family is falling apart. However, if you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, you will have to tell your kids eventually. Fortunately, there are ways you can make this difficult discussion less painful and awkward.
Here are four pieces of advice to use when telling your kids you are getting a divorce.
Tell them together
While spending time with your soon-to-be-ex might not be the first thing you want to do, telling your children together is the best option. Many children are concerned about what their parents think during divorce and having both parents present during this conversation can help ease their fears and answer their questions.
This can also help your children feel reassured that both of you will still be present in their lives even after the divorce is finished.
You should also plan on telling all of your children at the same time, and around the same time as the rest of your family. You do not want your kids to hear the news from a sibling or other relative, before they get the whole story from you.
Preparation is key for tough conversations like this. You might want to plan what you are going to say and how you are going to explain the situation. You should also prepare for the various reactions you might get from your kids. Your children might be angry, confused or extremely sad when they hear the news and you should be ready for any, all three or other emotions.
Chances are your children might have questions, too. Be prepared to answer these questions truthfully and as openly as you can. Having prepared answers to your children’s questions can help them feel more at ease and lessen the stress of the situation.
The last thing you want to do is lie to your children. However, sometimes it might seem easier to tell white lies or stretch or shrink the truth because you think you are protecting your children. But it is best to tell your children the whole truth, as best you can. Chances are your kids will end up hearing the truth eventually and it is better if they hear it from you first, rather than discovering you were not honest with them.
After the initial discussion, your family might still have a long road ahead of them. The way you speak to and interact with your children after the initial conversation and after the divorce itself will have an impact on how your kids deal with the situation. Being there for your kids is probably your top priority, but divorce does not have to end the happiness and health of your family.