How do my partner and I tell our children about the divorce?
Posted: March 7, 2017
By Nicole Myers, MS, LPC
When you decide to divorce, it is a very emotional and difficult time for you. Unfortunately, it is just as emotional and difficult for your children: they did not make this decision and must deal with multiple upcoming changes in their lives from divorce. You love your children and want the best for them, especially in difficult times. Very likely your children know people and have friends whose parents are divorced; they have ideas about what divorce means. This will be a difficult discussion but an important one to begin setting a firm foundation for a positive future. Children can and do adjust to divorce, it is up to us as parents to pave the way for healthy adjustment.
Tell your children with your partner in a family meeting to reduce confusion and maintain your children's trust in you. They will have one version of what to expect. Be honest and focus on how they will be affected and have a plan. Tell your children about the divorce after you and your partner know for certain when and how you plan to handle divorce but shortly before changes occur in their lives, such as one week before the changes start. Telling children too soon creates unnecessary angst while waiting too long does not allow time to adjust. Acknowledge how the marriage has been difficult for the children, such as overhearing arguments, let them know you and your partner are divorcing and you both love them as much as you always did. Be ready to answer questions. If you know where each parent will be living and when they will be with each parent, they will certainly feel more protected than when they do not know what to expect. Keep it simple and focus on your children's needs. If you don't have an answer for a question, admit it and tell them you and your partner will figure it out and get back to them.
Remember: Tell your children it is not their fault, the divorce is between you and your partner, you will help them with the changes.
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