Making the decision to move forward with a divorce is rarely easy and, if you and your spouse share children, the hard part has only just begun. How you break the news to them will have a profound impact on their lives and their ability to cope with this major change, so you will both need to adequately prepare for it and understand which mistakes to avoid.
We prepared a list of tips to help you have this conversation with your children:
- Do it together: You and your spouse might not be on the best of terms right now, but it is crucial to have this conversation with your children together. You need to show that, although you will no longer be a couple, you will always be their parents. Presenting yourselves as a team will help offer some much-needed comfort and assurance that you will both continue to be in their lives.
- Make this a family conversation: If you have multiple children, address everyone in one discussion and then speak to each individual child separately for any follow-up questions. If there is a big difference in the age of your children and you believe one might take the news a little harder than the other, you might want to consider speaking to each child individually. Otherwise, it is best to make this a family meeting.
- Plan it out: Given the sensitive and delicate nature of this conversation, planning will go a long way in ensuring it goes relatively smoothly. The last thing you want to do is approach this conversation without having given any of what you are going to say some thought. Of course, you do not have to write out a script. Instead, plan to cover certain key points and messages. Let your children know that the divorce was not their fault and there was nothing they could have done to change the outcome. Make sure they understand that nothing about your love for them has changed and that you will both always be there for them.
- Be prepared for a vast array of reactions: Kids can have some pretty unpredictable reactions, so be prepared for anything. They might cry, throw a tantrum, get angry, stay silent, or seem aloof about the whole thing. Moreover, children tend to be egocentric, so many of the concerns they raise might be in regards to how your divorce will impact their lives. They might be concerned about changing schools, moving to a different home, or whether or not they will still be able to hang out with their best friend. Be ready for anything and, if necessary, give them the space they need to process this information.
- Be ready for a lot of questions: Your children might not be ready to ask you questions immediately after this discussion, but if they are, be ready to answer them. Try to answer them as honestly as possible, but without providing the gory details. There is no reason why they need to know exactly what went wrong in the marriage, especially since this topic will inevitably lend itself to the two of you pointing fingers at one another. Be honest, but also be considerate and thoughtful when it comes to your answers.
- Choose the right time: Lastly, timing is everything when comes to talking to your children about your divorce. Do not have this conversation before bedtime or in the morning before school. Choose a time when there will be nothing to do afterward, so they can have time to process what was said and think about any questions they might want to ask. Do it over the weekend or after school on a Friday.
Schedule a Consultation with a Compassionate Divorce Lawyer
Are you and your spouse getting a divorce? You should not hesitate to seek compassionate and skilled legal representation to handle your case and ensure your interests are protected. At Sherwood, Johnson & Poles, our team has over six decades of combined legal experience and a dedication to helping clients navigate this emotionally charged legal matter.
Contact our office today at (888) 224-1218 to schedule a free evaluation with one of our attorneys.