If you’ve been through a divorce, you already know how difficult it was when your parents broke the news to you.
Now that you find yourself in a similar situation you find yourself in a panic about telling your child about your separation. After all, you never expected to be looking up parenting tips for talking about divorce.
As a parent, you never want to say anything that is going to hurt your child. Yet, by telling them you are divorcing their mother or father, that’s exactly what will happen. You’re dreading the conversation. You’re nervous. You don’t know what to say.
The way you behave while telling your children of your divorce and after your separation canaffect your childrenfor years to come.
Telling your children about your divorce isn’t going to be pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be as dreadful as you’re imagining, either. Here are 6 parenting tips for how much to share with your children about your divorce.
Decide Together What to Say
It is important to tell your children about the divorce as soon as you know, for a certainty, that a divorce is inevitable. If you hide such things as dating new people or one spouse having moved out from your children, they will feel betrayed and untrusting.
When it comes to telling your children that you have decided to separate, it is important to decide with your ex-spouse what to reveal. This is a pivotal parenting tips.
Of course, each spouse will have their own personal version of what went wrong in the relationship. But this is not something you have to upset or confuse your children with. Instead, decide on a mutual version of the truth to tell your children and decide as parents how much or little information you should reveal.
Deciding together on what to say will help prevent confusion in your children, since both parents are “sticking to the same story”, as it were. It will also help both you and your spouse be clear on what the children know.
Choose Age-Appropriate Explanations
One parenting tip when it comes to telling your children about your divorce is to use age-appropriate discretion.
For younger children, there are a few simple bullet points to hit on initially. First, that you both still respect one another, that you both love your child, the divorce is not their fault, and that you will be better parents apart than you are together should suffice.
Those in the 8-12 range may require a little more detail, but should also be reassured that the divorce has nothing to do with them or their behavior, since typically children will blame themselves for a parental separation.
Teenagers and adult children may still be devastated by your decision to divorce, but can oftentimes handle a more in-depth explanation of the separation. Knowing that there has been an affair, for example. But, that is up to your discretion on what to share and what to keep private at that age.
Use age-appropriate language and explanations at your own discretion and remember that it is psychologically harmful, no matter what their age, for your child to hear you speak slanderously or negatively about their other parent.
Is it Really Over?
One very important parenting tip is to decide amongst yourselves first whether or not the marriage is truly over. Do you truly see no chance of reconciliation, even with appropriate counseling and time apart? Is your relationship on-again, off-again?
It is emotionally traumatic for children to hear that their parents are separating. Not only does this cause distress to the parental unit that they are used to, but it also throws their lives into upheaval – being moved from house to house, potentially changing schools, not feeling the same family dynamic.
Therefore, it is imperative that both you and your spouse are 100% certain that the marriage is truly over and has no possibility of being fixed before putting your child through any emotional distress.
If you are telling your children about your decision to divorce together, remain united and mature. Children need their parents to show respect and responsibility when delivering such delicate, upsetting news. Therefore, refrain from throwing blame at your partner, even if you are not the one who wishes to have a divorce.
Put your children’s emotional wellbeing above your desire to be right. There is no need to have your child think badly of the parent who loves them just because you are angry with them.
When parents come together and show unity and a calm demeanor when delivering the news, the children may have a more stabilized reaction. As parents, you set the pattern of reaction.
Set Aside Time
There is no saying how much, or how little time telling your children will take. It could be an hour, it could be several hours. Devote an extended period of your scheduled day to telling your children and be patient with them. There may be tears, anger, confusion, and many questions for you to field during your conversation.
The conversation about your divorce may happen again and again throughout your child’s life. They may ask for consistent clarification as to what happened to end the marriage. This is especially true for the first few months after you have revealed the separation to them since it will take some time for them to fully process the changes that are happening.
No matter how many times your children ask about the divorce, remember to stay respectful to the explanation you and your ex-spouse decided on together.
Remain United in Parenting
Divorce is difficult on children. If you want things to go as smoothly as possible, you and your spouse need to agree to avoid blaming each other openly, agree not to fight in front of your children, do not trash talk each other when you are alone with the children and do not pressure your kids to pick a side.
Your children need to see that while you are separated romantically, you are still united as parents.
Talking to your children about getting divorced isn’t easy. The way you choose to reveal this information can leave a lasting impact on your kids. Follow our parenting tips about talking to your children about divorce by using age-appropriate explanations, speaking to your kids as united parents, and maintaining your children’s regular routine.
Author Bio: Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.