When it comes to divorce, the hard part is telling all the other people in your life what is going on. When it comes to children, this task can be insanely difficult and the sheer thought of breeching the subject scares many couples right back to staying unhappily married. Divorce affects all children differently and much of the time their reaction is based on the obvious and not so obvious clues their parents are giving off. Chances are the kids already know that the marriage is in trouble and the announcement of divorce may even offer some relief. Yet, how to tell the children you want a divorce is something that parents need to think long and hard about.
First of all, make sure that you are definitely getting a divorce. Some parents in the heat of angry moments make announcements of divorce that are invalid. This can make children feel awkward and confused. Children look to parents for concrete answers and as solutions to any problem that may exist. If it appears that you cannot control your own emotions your children will lose trust in you. If you and your spouse are sure, then the best thing to do is organize a family meeting where both mom and dad can calmly, without tears or anger or bitter resentment explain that a divorce is the best thing for the family. When you do to tell them, make sure you keep their needs at the forefront of the conversation and explain that while things will be different, the love for the children remains unchanged.
One aspect of divorce few parents consider, especially for young children is that kids assume since mom and dad can fall out of love with each other that they can stop loving them as well. Kids aren’t able to differentiate the fact that mom and dad are couple that is separate from the family unit. If you don’t prove to the children in conversation that they are loved and that they are safe in their family they can lose their faith and confidence in love as a whole.
Tell the Children the Truth
The second rule of thumb is not to lie. Your kids are smarter than you think and sugar coating the divorce and pretending that life will just go on as it always have will not go over well. If you give kids this idea, they will expect the same life they have now, which is rarely the case when parents divorce. Telling the kids you want a divorce will be met with thousands of questions and uncertainties by your children that must be answered in truth. If they already know about things like custody, ask for their input and make sure you are not asking them to choose sides. Obviously, joint custody works the best for kids because it enables them to spend equal time with both mom and dad. SO many parents turn their relationship failure into a tug of war for the children, which is one of the cruelest things a parent can do to a child. If you need someone to point fingers with you then find a friend who will not be left with this kind of emotional garbage. The kids love both of you, just as they should, and even if mom or dad is a lunatic in your eyes – your kids have the right to adore their parent. Time will reveal the truths soon enough.
When you consider how to tell the kids you want a divorce, you may want to have all of your ducks in a row. This means that you and your spouse have already figured out the nitty gritty details about who will live where and what school the kids will be attending. Remember, that children are selfish and they will be most concerned with how this affects them. If you have situated all the complications and have clear, direct and honest information it will make the transition period much easier. This way the kids see that you are still taking responsibility for them and that their life will not be interrupted to an unacceptable extent.
Parents all too often tell kids they want a divorce without really explaining it to the kids. They either figure they won’t understand or that it is none of their business. This is where parents go wrong. Yes, the intimate details of your relationship are not the kids concerns, but children need to be able to learn something positive from this experience. It is important that you discuss the reasons for divorce and that you express to your kids that mom and dad will be better parents when they are not married. The kids need to understand that you have tried to work things out so they don’t see you as a quitter and they also need to hear from the BOTH of you, that the divorce has NOTHING to do with them. Kids will immediately take responsibility for their parent’s relationship and worry that it is something they did that caused the fight.
Divorce is difficult for children. It is a time of change and it initiates a new life for your children as well as you that will take some adjustment. Depending on how you feel your child is handling it, you may want to consider allowing them to participate in a support group with other peers who have divorced parents. Watch for clues that your children are depressed or ashamed of the situation and above all things, make sure that both mom and dad seem to maintain control! Kids are looking to you for support and for a strong foundation. If they think you are losing it or that you are not acting normal – they will try to take responsibility for you and your moods and feel insecure in their life. After all if mom and dad can not work out – then how in the world can they trust anyone or anything else? The best way to avoid this reaction is to have a plan in mind and to work together with your partner in the best interests of the children. Telling the kids you want a divorce is difficult – but it is something that has to be discussed openly if divorce is imminent. Engage your child in conversation and try to ensure that they feel comfortable sharing all their concerns with you. If you can make it through the first few months without a hitch and you and your ex can work together and be civil, keeping personal thoughts to yourself – chances are you children will be just fine.