One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is breaking the news to your kids. No matter how confident you are that this is the right decision, making your child see that can be a challenge. Even the most amicable of divorces can turn a child’s world upside down, so it is extremely important to handle this sensitive conversation in a careful way. Read on to find the McKINNON LEGAL team’s tips for talking to your kids about your divorce.
1. Gather the family.
Ideally, both parents should sit down with all of the children at once to have this conversation. Telling older children first can make them feel burdened — they will often feel the need to keep a secret and protect their younger siblings. It is also important for both parents to be involved in the conversation rather than having only mom or only dad handle it. This dodges the possibility that one parent could describe the situation in a way that makes it sound like it is all the other parent’s fault. It also shows your children that even though you are getting a divorce, you are both still dedicated to parenting them. Besides, no matter how you look at it, you will still be a family afterward.
2. Listen and answer questions.
Make sure that this conversation is a dialogue, not just a speech you present and then go away without discussing. Your children need to feel that you are open to hearing their thoughts and concerns. It is likely that your children will hit you with some difficult questions. They may wonder what made you and your spouse fall out of love. They may want to know specifics about custody arrangements before you have a clear answer to give them. It is essential to answer their questions to the best of your ability. Be honest about what you just do not know yet, but make sure you reassure them that however the process unfolds, you love them and will prioritize their happiness and wellbeing.
3. Invite them to ask more questions as they arise.
This should not be a one-and-done conversation. Make sure your children know you understand they will have more questions as they have more time to think about what is going on. They need to feel welcome to discuss this with you more in the future. If they feel that it is a taboo topic, it can cause them to bottle up their feelings in unhealthy ways.
If you are getting a divorce, you need an experienced attorney to help you with the legal side of things so that you can focus on handling the emotional side of things, like breaking the news to your kids.