When parents finally reach the realization that they can no longer be happily married, their first concern is often how the divorce will affect their children. Fortunately, research has shown that children of divorced parents can thrive and be just as successful and contented as children with married parents. However, telling children about an impending divorce can be a near-monumental task to undertake. If you and your spouse have children and plan to separate or divorce, telling the children about the split may be a challenging and emotional conversation. However, there are some steps you can take to make the conversation about divorce less traumatic for you and your children.
If Possible, Tell the Kids Together
If you and your spouse are able to do so civilly, telling the children together can help them feel more secure. Presenting a united front in this way helps indicate to your children that although you may not be married to on another anymore, you will still be their parents. Telling the children as a couple also helps the children feel less obligated to pick sides. Of course, telling your kids about the split together is not always possible. Couples with extreme resentment towards each other may struggle to put the children’s needs first during the conversation and may make the situation more emotionally volatile.
Make the Conversation Age Appropriate
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have several children together, you may be tempted to tell them about the divorce separately. Many experts suggest telling the children all at once instead of individually. Doing this reduces the chances that one child spreads misinformation to the others and adds unnecessary confusion. After the initial group discussion, you may want to follow up with each child independently. When discussing divorce with children under five, experts say that keeping the conversation simplistic and concrete is best. Focus on the vital information: where the child will live and who he or she will live with. School aged children can handle a bit more detail, but parents should be careful not to overshare. Teenaged children may be standoffish when learning about the divorce and act like they do not want to talk about their feelings. However, teens and preteens still need love and attention from parents just as younger children do. Give your teenaged child some time to cool off if he or she gets upset at the news and try to approach the topic later....