Hi, I'm Nicole Myers, Licensed Professional Counselor. If you would like to know more about me or my colleagues, please check out our introductions available in video, audio or text.
Today's question is: How much information should our children know about the divorce and where should we as parents draw the line?
This is a really good question to ask yourselves before you tell your children about the divorce so that you can be prepared for this. Your children may ask you things like, "Why," "What's wrong," and "What about us?" So be prepared to answer those questions, focusing on the children's needs. Things they don't need to learn about are the financial stressors that the two of you are going to be dealing with; except for how it affects them. So, if it means that you were going to buy your teenage son a car and cannot afford to do so, they may need to be aware that they will not be getting the car but that they can certainly have assistance in getting a car, such how you can help him get a job, how you can help him afford things. If you have younger children, the questions may be somewhat different but they are still going o be along the same lines of how does this affect them, what should they expect and what will happen for the future. So, what should they expect for the future? Where will they be able to stay? Where will their things be? This could include things like if you have the pet dog "Fido," Who gets Fido when? Do the Children get to have the dog with them all the time or only when at Mom's house or at Dad's house? These questions might seem trivial as you are entering into this humongous process of divorce but your reasons for divorce are your own reasons and your children need to understand how it's going to affect them. So, remember to focus on their needs when you tell them about the divorce and use time for yourselves to think about your needs as well.
So, how much information do they need to know about the divorce? They need to know what's happening and when it going to happen. Giving older children at least a week to adjust to it before other people become aware of it. Younger children you may only need to give a day or two notice but, be prepared for them to have questions that pop-up along the way. If you can still speak with your soon-to-be ex-partner in a cordial manner, try to process these questions together so that your children are getting the same answer from both of you. If you are no longer able to have those kinds of discussions with your ex-partner, then be prepared on your own to consider what your children need and keeping in mind that your ex-partner is still their parent as well as you. So, even though you may no longer care for this person, your children most certainly do.
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