For any couple breaking up, sharing the news with the people in their lives is a difficult aspect of the split. Married couples who are also parents together have one particular audience that is most important to inform: the kids.
Telling children about an impending divorce can be a challenge for all parents. No matter the family dynamics during the marriage, a divorce will bring major changes to the lives of everyone in the family. With that in mind, it’s important that parents prepare for sharing this news and go into the conversation with a plan in place to mitigate any potential issues.
Plan for the conversation together
In many situations, parents getting a divorce will need to work together for years to come in a co-parenting relationship. Despite the difficulties of the marriage, the fact that you are co-parents won’t change in a shared custody arrangement. You’ll need to work together in the future, so start that dynamic off strong with this initial conversation.
When it’s safe and feasible to do so, work together to create a plan for sharing the news with children. Discuss some of the questions that may arise during the conversation such as the new living arrangement, how often kids will see each parent and how this news may impact other parts of their lives. Presenting a united, civil front can show the kids that their family isn’t breaking up just because their parents are.
Consider their point of view
Children may react to the news of a divorce in any number of ways. If they already know there’s tension and fighting between parents, it may come as a relief that those issues will dissipate. They may be happy to know the home life may stabilize even though it’s changing.
For children who don’t see the problems in the marriage, a common reaction may include sadness, anger and confusion. As a parent it’s important to consider how they may react and prepare to provide comfort and clarity during this time. Prepare to answer questions and most importantly to assure them it isn’t their fault in any way. You don’t have to tell them the ins and outs of why the marriage is ending, but provide the reassurance that the split isn’t due to anything they did or said.
Remain open to discussion
One conversation isn’t enough to provide the necessary information and reassurance for children during a divorce. Parents should let children know that this conversation can continue over time and may change as a divorce process carries on.
Additionally, parents don’t have to do it alone. Consider utilizing outside resources such as family counselors and child psychologists to monitor your child’s wellbeing throughout the process. No parent wants to bring pain or strife to their child’s life. Take the time and care to consider their wellbeing before, during and after a divorce.