One of the most challenging aspects of a divorce is breaking the news to the kids. You and your partner may struggle to find the right words without adding to the pain of the news. This is normal, but there are ways that you can lessen the blow and have an effective, open conversation with your kids.
Keep in mind that all conversations with your children depend on their age and maturity level.
Choose a neutral time and place
You do not want your kids to associate the memories of your divorce announcement with holidays, vacations or any other milestone moments. Choose a neutral time where everyone can meet and have a family discussion in a comfortable setting. Your kids need to feel comfortable discussing their feelings with you.
Be honest and open
In the U.S., only about 60% of kids live with their married biological parents. When you start a conversation about divorce, normalize separation with your kids.
Use clear, easy-to-understand language, but only provide information relevant to your kids’ understanding of the separation. If you have kids of varying ages, you may want to hold an initial meeting with everyone and then talk to the older kids separately if they can handle extra details.
Support and encourage your children to ask questions about the divorce. It’s important for them to understand that they will have persistent stability in their lives. Additionally, they may wonder if they played a role in your divorce. Emphasize that your choice has nothing to do with their behavior and that both you and your spouse will continue to care for them the same as always.
Create a united front to acknowledge and address your children’s feelings, regardless of how negative. Your presence will be more important than the news.