Divorce and Children - Breaking the News that Mom and Dad are Getting a Divorce
Divorcing parents universally dread the moment when they have to break the news to their children. Is there a good way to do this? This article gives you the real scoop on how to tell your children you are getting a divorce.
Divorce has a lot of difficult moments, but one of the toughest has got to be when you utter the words: "Kids, mommy and daddy are getting a divorce."
No parent likes to see their children suffer or be in pain. Yet learning that family life as they have known it is about to radically change is hard news for children to take. Delivering the news to the children is difficult emotionally for both the kids and the grownups.
Is there a "good" way to do this? Here are some ways you can be prepared to deliver this conversation with love, clarity and honesty.
1. Do Some Advance Planning
Do some preparation in advance of the actual conversation. Jot down some of your key messages beforehand. This will help you process some of your emotions beforehand and ease your nerves. This is definitely not a conversation where you want to "wing it."
2. Deliver the News Together if Possible
Ideally, both parents should be a part of the conversation, if at all possible. It sends an early signal that you are both there for your children even when things are difficult. It shows you can be a parenting team, even if you're no longer going to be married.
3. Timing is Important
While there is no "perfect" time to break the news, see if you can have the talk before a weekend or at a time when the children don't have any pressing commitments right afterwards. Don't put it off too long. It's better for your children to hear the news directly from you rather than from some family friend or neighbor.
4. Identify Your Key Messages
Children are very self-referential and may believe that the divorce is somehow their fault. Here are some key messages you need to deliver:
- Divorce is something that happens between grownups, not between parents and children.
- Even though mom and dad are going to be living in different places, we will always be your parents and love you.
- Mom and Dad just aren't happy together anymore, but one thing we'll always be happy about was bringing you into the world.
5. Have Some Basic Logistics Worked Out
Adults tend to worry about how to explain "why" Mom and Dad are getting divorced. But children are initially much more concerned about the "who, what, where, when and how" issues. Where will they be living? Will they have to change schools? How often will they get to see each parent? Who gets the family pet? It's best to have some of these basic, day-to-day, logistical issues answered so you can give children a clearer picture of what's next.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Success Strategist, coach and best-selling author, Carolyn B. Ellis, is the founder of ThriveAfterDivorce.com, created for divorced people who want to stop struggling and start thriving. To get free tips on every aspect of living through a divorce, from legal issues to single parenting to getting back into the dating world, visit www.ThriveAfterDivorce.com