Children naturally want their parents to remain married forever. This desire typically stems more from the child’s fear of the unknown than from any other source.
When parents decide to divorce, this may not even be a surprise to children, since by the time they reach this decision, parents may have undergone a trial separation, or children may have observed a significant amount of conflict in the home.
However, even in those situations, hearing the news of a pending divorce is a conversation that children will remember the rest of their lives. As parents, we can work to protect our children’s best interests by following these tips for guiding the discussion in a healthy and constructive direction:
Break the News Together
When you discuss divorce with your children, you and your spouse should do so together in a united manner. This conversation is not the time nor the place for bitterness or resentment.
Even if one spouse is not on board with the decision to divorce, it is in the best interests of the children to incorporate the word “we” as much as possible and make it appear as a joint decision.
Keep in mind that this is emotionally difficult for your children as well. When you present the information as a team, it shows that you both are willing and able to work together.
Have a Discussion As a Family
Experts agree it is best to give the information to the whole family at one time initially, then speak with each child individually later. If you fear that one child will take the news harder than the others, and their adverse reaction may result in an emotionally traumatic experience for the others in the room, consider telling them individually in the beginning.
Make a Plan
Have an initial plan going into the conversation, one which you and your spouse have created together. Although the children’s reactions are going to vary, which may change the initial plans for the discussion, you should at least have a starting point. Consider covering the following topics:
- You have been having problems together, and despite your best efforts to repair the marriage, the marriage still is not working.
- You love the children very much and nothing can or will ever change that.
- You are still mom and dad to them, just not married to each other anymore.
- It is not the children’s fault.
- Even if the living situation changes, everyone is still family.
Be Ready To Answer Questions
Your children will likely have questions for you; perhaps not at first, but they will come out eventually. The best policy is to be as honest as possible with them while keeping discussions age-appropriate. If you have questions yourself, consider contacting an divorce attorney.
Author: Vincent Machroll