For many people getting divorced who have children, telling the kids can often be the hardest part. The thought of how upset and confused your children will be can make it incredibly difficult to break the news and many parents simply have no idea how to start the conversation.
If you are trying to work out how to tell your children about your divorce, it’s important to bear in mind that you are far from the first people to have to do so. Many people have gone through this before and, if you go about it the right way, you can significantly reduce the impact on your child.
Here are our top tips for talking to your child about divorce:
Tell them together
To minimise the confusion for your children, it is a good idea that both of you tell them together. This prevents them from hearing two different sides to the story or feeling like they are being invited to take sides. Also, if one parent tells the children alone, the children may be inclined to blame the parent who isn’t there, or the one doing the telling. This isn’t fair on the children or you.
Agree what to tell them
It is really important to agree what you will tell your children, especially about why the divorce is happening. Again, you don’t want them to hear two different stories, so agree something you both find acceptable and then stick with it.
Don’t start placing blame
It can be tempting to put the blame on your soon-to-be ex-partner, especially when the decision to divorce is fresh and you may be feeling very angry or bitter. However, this is rarely in the best interests of your children, especially younger children, so as much as possible you should aim to make the divorce sound like a mutual decision.
Be honest (but not too honest)
It’s okay to let your children see that you are upset and that they should feel able to express their own feelings. You also need to be open with them about the ways in which their and your lives will likely change once the divorce happens. However, they do not need all of the details and it is important to bear in mind your children’s age when deciding how much to share. Younger children will likely need things simplified for them while older children may be ready for a more detailed explanation.
You will likely have to go over the same ground several times when discussing your divorce with your children, so it is important not to get frustrated or upset as much as possible. You also have to accept that it make take your children a while to absorb the news and adjust, so don’t except them to be okay with it too soon.
Don’t put off telling younger children
One mistake many divorcing couples make is to tell older children but put off telling younger children because they are “not ready” or “won’t understand”. While you may want to tailor what you tell your individual children based on their ages, if you avoid telling younger children it puts an unfair strain on their older siblings to keep the secret and gives the younger children the impression that you don’t think they can cope with the truth.
Make it clear that it is not their fault
There’s a reason that this has become a cliché – because it is always worth doing. Children, especially young children, often blame themselves when their parents get divorced. This idea can be reinforced if you are stressed and upset and end up losing your temper with your children when going through a divorce. It is therefore really important to stress that none of this is their fault and that both of you still love them the same as you always have.
Crisp & Co’s expert divorce solicitors can guide you through every step of the divorce process, including handling all of the financial aspects, to get the best outcome possible for your interests. Our team includes trained mediators who can help you explore non-confrontational ways to negotiate a fair divorce settlement, as well as highly experienced lawyers who can represent you in court where this is the best or only way to achieve an acceptable settlement.
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