Whatever the latest statistics are, they offer little in the way of comfort for someone actually going through a divorce, especially if there are children involved. Surely, sitting down and telling your kids that you and their father are getting divorced has got to be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have with them?
Although, it doesn’t have to be. Yes, it will be upsetting, and yes, there probably will be tears. However, if you go about this talk in the right way, your children may even leave the conversation with a sense of calm and understanding.
Keep reading to find out how you can tell your children about divorce in a way that will minimise their pain and ensure they understand what the future holds for them and your family.
Choose the Right Time
If you fought with your spouse in the past and bandied the divorce word about, then your children may feel desensitised to this concept. Therefore, it is vital that you wait until you and your partner are absolutely certain that a divorce is going ahead before you sit down and tell your children.
You should also pick a day when you have plenty of time to sit and answer any questions they may have and provide any necessary reassurance. You do not want to have this important conversation when you are feeling rushed, or when your children are hungry or tired.
Provide a United Front
Depending on the circumstances which led to your divorce and the current relationship you have with your spouse, this may be a challenge for you and your partner. However, it is vital that you tell your children together, where possible, so that they can understand that both parents will still be there for them, even though you will not be living together.
Your children will no doubt have a lot of questions about how this will affect their lives and it is important that you answer them honestly. It can be a good idea to talk to a Family Lawyer first to discuss some of the issues that may come up, such as arrangements surrounding where they will live, when they will visit their other parent, what will happen during holidays, etc.
Do Not Attribute Blame
If one partner had an affair, or contributed to financial problems that led to the divorce, your children do not need to know about this. Of course, it can be incredibly tempting to blame your spouse, especially when emotions are high, and you are understandably angry. However, this can have a seriously detrimental effect on your children and may result in them not wanting to see the other parent.
Instead, keep it simple and say that you no longer love each other, or that you love each other but don’t want to live together anymore. Whatever reason you choose to tell your children, make sure that you are firm and clear in telling them how much you both still love them.
Look Out for Signs That They Are Struggling
In the days and weeks that follow, you should be on high alert for any changes in your children’s behaviour. Of course, it is understandable that they may be quieter than usual or more withdrawn, but they may also act out in other ways. For example, depending on their age, they may:
- Be naughty
- Be unusually clingy
- Regress with sleeping alone or with toilet training
- Show attention-seeking behaviour
- Push boundaries, such as staying out later than allowed
- Be angry and rude
All of the above are completely natural reactions, and they are likely to have good and bad days. As a parent, you can only do your best to be there and support them and patiently wait as they adapt to their changing circumstances.