When you and your spouse decided to divorce, you probably knew this included a very difficult task: telling your children about it. You know that divorce will mean not only a life change for you, but for them. They likely will have lots of questions, fears and sadness about it. You likely feel a bit lost on how and when you should break the news.
Here are five tips that will help you prepare:
- Make a plan. You don’t want to just say, “We’re getting a divorce” while you are driving them to school one morning. You want to tell them at home, when they have time to process it. You may even want to prepare a speech and practice it, so you can tell them calmly, without getting too emotional.
- Tell your kids together. You and your spouse will be your children’s parents forever. So, you both need to tell them together. You don’t have to give them the reasons for the divorce and you want to avoid disparaging each other, or fighting, in front of them during this conversation.
- Assure them you’ll always be a family. You want to make sure they understand they are not the reason for your divorce and that you and your spouse both love them very much. You also want to let them know that you and your spouse will continue to be their mom and dad, even though you are no longer married.
- Give details about how life will now change. If you and your spouse already have decided who is moving out and who the kids will be staying with, you need to be honest with them. If for now, they’ll only be seeing Dad on weekends, they should know that. You want to give them a sense of security, so you’ll need to come to a temporary agreement about custody with your spouse beforehand.
- Expect varied reactions and be prepared to handle them. Each child may react differently to the news. Some may cry, some may pout or get angry. Some may not show any emotion at all. You need to be prepared to comfort them and support them as you all navigate this transition.
You may want to try to outdo your spouse as you begin to spend time with your children alone: proving your love for them by taking them to many fun places or on a great vacation. Just remember, they really need quality time with you and reassurance that they will adjust to the divorce eventually.