How to tell the kids about the divorce?
When it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, many parents freeze up. Make the conversation a little easier on both yourself and your children by preparing what you’re going to say before you sit down to talk. If you can anticipate tough questions, deal with your own anxieties ahead of time, and plan carefully what you’ll be telling them, you will be better equipped to help your children handle the news.
What to say and how to say it?
Difficult as it may be, try to strike an empathetic tone and address the most important points right up front. Give your children the benefit of an honest—but kid-friendly—explanation.
Tell the truth. Your kids are entitled to know why you are getting a divorce, but long-winded reasons may only confuse them. Pick something simple and honest, like “We can’t get along anymore.” You may need to remind your children that while sometimes parents and kids don’t always get along, parents and kids don’t stop loving each other or get divorced from each other.
Say “I love you.” However simple it may sound, letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed is a powerful message. Tell them you’ll still be caring for them in every way, from fixing their breakfast to helping them with homework.
Address changes. Preempt your kids’ questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different, and other things won’t. Let them know that together you can deal with each detail as you go.
It’s vital to be honest with your kids, but without being critical of your spouse. This can be especially difficult when there have been hurtful events, such as infidelity, but with a little diplomacy, you can avoid playing the blame game.
Present a united front. As much as you can, try to agree in advance on an explanation for your separation or divorce—and stick to it.
Plan your conversations. Make plans to talk with your children before any changes in the living arrangements occur. And plan to talk when your spouse is present, if possible.
Show restraint. Be respectful of your spouse when giving the reasons for the separation.
How much information should I give my child about the divorce?
Especially at the beginning of your separation or divorce, you’ll need to pick and choose how much to tell your children. Think carefully about how certain information will affect them.
Be age-aware. In general, younger children need less detail and will do better with a simple explanation, while older kids may need more information.
Share logistical information. Do tell kids about changes in their living arrangements, school, or activities, but don’t overwhelm them with the details.
Keep it real. No matter how much or how little you decide to tell your kids, remember that the information should be truthful above all else.