When you’re a parent that’s about to get a divorce, telling the kids what’s about to happen can be one of the hardest things to do. As hard as it might be, however, it is definitely necessary.
Even though this is a conversation you are dreading, if divorce is on your horizon, it is time to have “the talk.” Below are some tips that might make a hard discussion a little bit easier.
Be sure of your decision
Are you and the kids’ other parent merely taking some time out to decide whether your relationship is salvageable? Are you (or your spouse) ready to file the petition for divorce today? This is important because you don’t want to give your children false hope that there’s room for things to change again. You also don’t want to make an announcement about the divorce until you’re absolutely certain it’s going to happen.
Tell them together
When at all possible, it’s better for the kids if you and your spouse can address the situation together. This lets the kids know it’s a joint decision and prevents one parent from being the bad guy. It also makes it easier for you and your spouse to reinforce the idea to the kids that one thing that won’t change is your love for them.
Discuss the changes they can expect
Will the kids have to move out of their home or change schools? Give them as much advance warning as possible when abrupt changes will occur. Alternatively, if they will remain at home and in the same schools, reassure them of this.
Allow them to ask questions
You should never reveal intimate details to the kids or say things like, “Because Daddy loves somebody else now,” or “Since Mommy has a boyfriend…” But some kids will pepper you with questions about the divorce. Answer truthfully without assigning blame to either parent.
Seek family counseling when necessary
Ask your family law attorney or the pediatrician for referrals to a counselor who can help the kids accept this new normal if necessary. Let them know it’s okay to be sad and upset and that both you and their other parent will always love them.
Working through this step of your divorce can be difficult, but it’s something that has to be done. In the meantime, make sure that you speak with your attorney about all your options so that you have a better picture about what everyone can expect.