Breaking the news to your kids that you and their other parent are getting a divorce can be difficult. You want to make sure that they understand what is happening, but you also don’t want to overwhelm them or say things they won’t understand. As such, how you broach this topic may be the first step in helping them cope with and accept your separation.
Develop a strategy ahead of time
Children are perceptive. They may already have an inkling that things are not good between their parents long before either of you files for a divorce. However, this doesn’t mean that you can drop the divorce bomb on them out of the blue. You’ll still need to have a plan in place when having this conversation to minimize the emotional trauma that they might suffer.
If possible, you and your spouse should break the news to them together. This way, they’ll know that both of you are still on their side and that you’re both there for them. Also, prepare what you’ll say ahead of time to relay your message in a way they would understand.
Reassure them that they’re not to blame
Many kids think that their parents’ divorce is their fault. They may have overheard a fight or two or seen you and your spouse argue about something they did or asked for. Thus, it’s important to reassure them that the divorce isn’t their fault and that nothing they did led to it. Let them know that adults made this decision and that it doesn’t reflect on them in any way.
Don’t make the kids feel like they have to pick sides
In some cases, parents use their kids as pawns to get back at each other during a divorce. They may try to get the kids to “take sides” or choose one parent over the other. This is a terrible idea and will only serve to upset your children further. Instead, remind them that they still have two parents who love them and that you both will always be there for them no matter what.
Telling your children about your separation is not an easy thing to do, but it is an important conversation to have. To make the process a little easier, put your child’s best interest first at every step of your divorce.