One of thehardest parts of your divorce telling your kids, here is my advice for how to do it in a way that allows the best outcome for all.
Understanding where your children are at, developmentally, can help you help them adjust to the reality of divorce. Here are my tips for having that conversation so that you can support your children and your family to a happy outcome:
1. Sort out timings
What you say and the timing for when you say it will have a huge impact on how your children react and deal with the news of your divorce. So, make sure you plan. For instance avoid breaking the news when your kids are sad, distracted, or tired. Do not tell them during happy moments, such as holidays or birthdays. Choose a good time that brings about the least impact.
2. Preparing a parental plan
Preparing a parental plan of who is going to do what, and where the children will go is a great thing to have in place. These take time but provide reassurance to children, they will want answers.
3. Talking to the children together and not blaming
This plan should involve both of you. Don’t talk about the reasons. Do not get into an argument. Do not blame each other. This is about them and not you. You are both their parents. They need to know you are both there for them.
3. Explaining the outcome
When telling kids about divorce, the inevitable question will come to their minds: Where will they live? Will they get to see you both? In the best-case scenario, you and your partner should have already decided this with your parental plan and can take them through this together.
4. All your kids should be together when you tell them
If you have older children, you may feel that they will have a better understanding of why you and your spouse are divorcing. However in my experience it is best to have this initial conversation announcing the divorce together as a family. If you have more than one child, they will be each other’s support system.
5. Remember you are the parent
If they are old enough, your children will want to have a say in the process, for example they might want to choose who they’ll live with or how they split their time. But this is a decision that you and your ex-partner should make with their interests in mind, ultimately you are the parents.
6. Expect reactions and be prepared to deal with them
Each child will react differently to the news. Some may briefly cry, but then may act as if they didn’t hear it. Ignoring this situation is their way of thinking things will sort themselves out. Other children may keep changing the subject. They may refuse to listen altogether. Others won’t show emotion; they will bury it deep inside.
As a parent, you should be prepared for any of these reactions when telling your children about your divorce.
If your children fall into more than one age group, tell them together and then have a follow up conversation that is appropriate to their age.
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