You and your spouse have had the "talk" with each other and now it's time to tell your kids: You're getting a divorce. But how do you go about doing that while honoring the needs and sensitivities of a young child?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to talking to kids about divorce. Parents need to consider the age and maturity of their children, as well as the unique needs that their children may have. That said, the following pieces of advice may prove helpful when approaching this topic with your children.
Tips for having the "divorce talk" with your kids
Depending on your family's situation, some of this advice might not fit. However, read over the following tips as at least one of them may make sense for you when talking to your kids about divorce:
Assemble the whole family: It's best to have the divorce talk with all children and both parents present. If a grandparent -- or other relative -- lives with you, then have this person present, too. After that, follow up individually with your children to so that you can explain the situation in terms that he or she can fully understand given the child's maturity level. A private conversation also gives your child a chance to privately ask you questions.
One exception to this advice might be if you expect one child -- like an older teenager -- to react in an explosive or difficult way that could frighten a younger member of the family.
Plan your approach: Meet with the other parent of your children to discuss how you will approach this topic. This way you can present a united front that helps your child feel stable, and it also lets you field your ideas with the other parent to ensure that he or she is on board.
Try some of this phrasing: Here are some phrases that might be useful when talking to your kids:
- Mommy and daddy aren't getting along. We tried to make it better, but it's not working.
- Both of us love you very much, and nothing can change this. We will always be your mommy and daddy and we'll always be here to take care of you.
- We're going to stay your mommy and daddy forever, but we are going to stop being husband and wife. We're going to get divorced.
- We are so happy you are our kids. You are such good kids. This is all our fault, not yours.
- We're always a family. It's just that mommy and daddy won't live with each other anymore.
Parents can expect plenty of questions after they broach this topic with their kids. The key is to reassure your children how much you love them and that you will always love them, and you will always be there for them.
One way to help your children through the time following your divorce is to make a commitment to the other parent to part ways peacefully. No matter what comes up, make a resolution that you will work together to resolve conflict peacefully. A full understanding of the law, and how family law judges decide various child custody, asset division and other divorce concerns, can assist you greatly in navigating a peaceful, out-of-court settlement that honors the needs and best interests of all parties involved.