Telling Your Children About Divorce? Get Tips from 4 Parents Who Have Been in Your Shoes
Ask any parent about what the hardest part of their divorce was and almost every single one will say the same thing – telling their children. It’s an understandably difficult situation, and it’s not something we are really ever prepared to go through.
Some parents handle it great, but many more feel like they could have done a better job. If you and your spouse are considering divorce and have children, keep reading to get some ideas on how to best break the news.
Real Life Examples to Learn From
Here are a few steps you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may want to consider before informing your children about your plans to split up.
Monique Honaman of High Road Less Traffic is a parent that has been through this before. She says, “Telling the kids we were getting divorced was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had. There is no right way, and the conversation certainly needs to be age-appropriate.”
Ms. Hohaman believes there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind. But, the very first of these is to inform your child or children as the family you are and will remain, even when separated.
She suggests, “ Deliver the message jointly that mom and dad are getting divorced. This isn’t something one parent should have to handle on their own.”
Even though you are on the outs with your spouse, this is a time when you need to support one another, and the joint effort will go a long way with your children.
Candi Wingate, president of Care4hire.com understands that while parents want to appear strong and in control, they sometimes dictate the discussion a little too much.
She says, “Ask them how they are feeling about your divorce. What are their hopes? Concerns? What do they look forward to about how they will live after the divorce is done? What are their fears? Let your kids know that it’s OK to speak with you openly and honestly, and be understanding and pragmatic in your responses.”
The news is going to be a big shock. Your children are going to have a flood of emotions. It’s important to let them express those feelings.
Kevin Huhn, a business and personal development coach, has had his share of difficult situations as he was learning more about himself and being the best person he can be. When he and his former wife decided to call it quits over 20 years ago, he didn’t handle it very well.
He explains, “We had an argument in August of 95 and my ex told me that I had 30 days to get out.
So that is what I did. 30 days later I packed my stuff (while she was at work) and I left. I said nothing to the kids. At the time, I just knew that I needed to get away from my ex to keep my wits about me. I never thought that she would turn the kids against me.”
His relationships with his children eventually improved, but learn from his mistake. Doing nothing and avoiding the discussion with your children is only going to do more harm than good for you and for them.
Meredith Vogel of The Cookie Chrunicles went through a divorce. She says that while the initial discussion with your children is important, if they are old enough to grasp what’s happening it doesn’t end there.
From her personal experience, she explains, “As my son has gotten older, more questions do arise! I’ve had to answer many questions from him regarding our divorce as he gets older and attempts to understand what happened. I will forever filter the details but have learned that as he matures, the information I provide should mature too.”
Extremely young children might not understand concepts like marriage and divorce, but they will notice when one parent is not around. The older they get, the more they will soak in. Make sure that your children are comfortable with asking questions as they grow up so you can keep your bond with them as strong as possible.
There’s no one right way to approach your children if you and your partner are set on getting a divorce. Every situation is different as is every child.
However, if you have never gone through the process before, getting advice from those that have can be very valuable. The four parents above have all gone through the emotionally trying experience. Some handled it better than others, but their experiences as a whole can help you do the best you can at handling this difficult situation.