Divorce is such an adult topic. You and your spouse have talked it over repeatedly in the last year, and you know where you stand. The relationship is over. You know why, at least a degree, and you have made your peace with it. You knew it may not last forever when it started, and you agree that it’s best for you to move on.
But how do you explain all of that to your children? It’s so different for them. They may not understand where you’re coming from. The adult complications of a relationship go over their heads. Plus, you are their parents, and those relationships last for life. It’s impossible for them to see you the same way you see your spouse.
Here are some tips that can help you with this conversation:
1. Reassure the children and stress that you love them
Kids worry about the future. They worry about abandonment. They worry about losing their parents. Throughout the whole process, focus on reassuring them and giving them confidence. Boosting their morale may prove vastly more important than explaining why you’re getting divorced or going over all of the facts. Consider their emotions constantly.
2. Make sure they know that you made this decision
Often, children worry that they caused a divorce. They think their parents want to leave each other because of something they did or simply because they do not love them. It may seem irrational to you, and it is; they’re children, after all. Just understand that they may feel this way, even if they don’t say it, and explain to them that nothing is their fault.
3. Don’t spread out the news
If you have multiple children, never tell some of them before others. Don’t spread this process out. Don’t talk to other people outside of the family. You risk having the kids find out from a friend, family member, teacher or another sibling. You want to break the news to them — only when you know for sure that you will get divorced — before anyone else.
4. Don’t lie: Focus on honesty
Do not think that lying will make it easier. Do not make up stories about your spouse. Answer children’s questions honestly whenever you can. This does not mean you have to go into detail if someone had an affair or other very adult factors contributed to the divorce, but you do not want to deceive them. The truth will come out. Trust them and be honest about the information you give them.
Once you break the news to your children, make sure you take the time to look into all of the legal steps you will need to take.