Breaking the news of divorce to children is never easy. It’s hard for them to cope with at whatever age, even if they understand that it’s for the best. It’s important to be delicate when talking to your children about divorce, but also to be honest and answer any questions they may have. Your children will probably have friends that have been through the same thing, but it’s still good to reassure them. It’s a time to put your feelings aside and be there for them. Here are seven tips for talking to your children about divorce.
Prepare what you’re going to say
Before you jump in, it’s always better to prepare for difficult conversations. This doesn’t exactly mean writing a script but planning the critical points you want to get across. This will help you to be clear and concise, and avoid confusion. Emotions are probably running high at the moment, which won’t help the matter. Try to keep a clear head and prepare what you need to say. Be prepared for their reactions as well. They will have questions and might well get very upset. If you’re ready for this it will hopefully stop you from getting flustered in the moment and saying something you shouldn’t
Be clear and simple
If you want to achieve better communication with your children, it’s important to be clear. This doesn’t necessarily mean dumbing down anything or keeping secrets. Use your sense of judgement and take their age into consideration. You don’t want to patronize them but at the same time, you might not need to go into unpleasant details. Ideally, they should leave the conversation with a clear understanding of what’s going on rather than confused and upset.
Answer their questions
If they do ask questions, which they probably will, be honest. If they’re already asking then they have some awareness of the situation and deserve to know the truth. Answer their questions clearly and don’t leave them completely out of the loop. Again, use your discretion to protect them from harmful information especially if they’re at a young age. Here are some more tips on how to answer children’s questions about divorce.
Get professional support
Seek professional advice from either your divorce lawyers, mediators, or family therapist. They will have extensive experience in a variety of cases and will be able to provide you with unbiased insights. This could be very useful in helping you deal with the conversation with your children. If necessary, you could also consider having family counselling. Trained counsellors commonly deal with families going through a divorce and it could be very beneficial to speak an impartial advisor. This can be easier than discussing problems with a family member.
Explain the positives
In order to help your children cope with change, you need to clearly explain the reasons for it and the benefits. Even though it may be confusing for them at first, explain to them why getting divorced is for the best and focus on how this will improve things for your family. Ensure that they still feel safe and loved, and are aware that you will both still be there for them in the future.
Put your feelings aside
The most important thing is that you don’t take things personally. This conversation could get heated so keep your feelings in check and focus on your children. This can be very challenging at the time, but they will most likely be shocked or upset by the news and could lash out. Don’t use aggressive language about your spouse either and blame them for everything. It’s a good idea to tell the children together if possible and be as civilized as well.
Ensure they don’t feel to blame
It’s common that children feel guilty when parents divorce. Make it clear that they’re not to blame and reassure them if they feel guilty. Often children will blame themselves without telling you, so make sure they are aware it’s not their fault. It’s up to you whether you want to go into details as to why you are getting a divorce, but try to put a positive spin on it. Explain that it’s a necessary change to make things better for your family.
Talking to children about divorce is something many families have to go through. It can be an unpleasant conversation but in the long run, it’s better for everyone if you’re honest. This will reduce the risk of your children getting hurt more in the future.