How to Talk to Kids About Divorce
When couples marry and have children and build a future together, they don’t think divorce will be part of the process, but sadly for many, it is. For children, being put in the middle of their parents’ conflict can be very unhealthy. Witnessing fighting can be very damaging to a child’s development. So once a couple decides to call it quits, the next important consideration is determining how best to tell the children. Here are some suggestions on how to talk to kids about divorce:
Timing Is Everything
There is no specific timeline you must follow when you are handling a divorce. Do not rush into the conversation with your children. You need to talk things through with your co-parent first and get on the same page.
Do It Together
To show a united front, tell your children together. Let them know you both are there for them and that you love them. Create a plan together outlining what you will say. Be calm, confident, and reassuring. Remember to focus on your kids.
With Little Ones, Take Little Steps
Little children don’t understand complex words, emotions, or concepts. Speak to them in clear, simple language. Remember to reassure them that you both love them.
Give Older Children More Information But With Boundaries
Older children will have a lot of questions, so be ready! Be clear and direct and stick to age-appropriate information. Emphasize they are not to blame. Discuss what will change and what will stay the same.
Don’t Make Your Children Pick Sides
Putting your child in the middle of your divorce is unfair and hurtful. They should never have to choose sides. Instead, they should have a healthy relationship with both of you. Let them know that you will always be a family, but it will just look different.
Divorce brings a lot of difficulty and change. Structure for your children will help with the transition. Stability is essential for younger children. Acknowledge their sad feelings and focus on what will not change. Remind them they can always ask questions.