The decision to get divorced can be emotionally exhausting. You might feel too sad to even talk about it, but you must communicate it to your kids whenever you feel ready. Children are stronger than we think, and, according to the American Psychology Association, they adjust well within two years following the divorce. It all comes down, however, to how you communicate the situation to them.
Breaking the news together
The last thing you may want to do is sit down with your ex, but you must plan together how to deliver the news. Talking to your kids as a team might avoid making one of you look like the bad guy and prevent any blame or anger towards either of you.
Make sure you have the conversation at a time where your kids can process the information. The worst thing to do would be to tell them before dropping them off somewhere or before bedtime. Fridays are usually a good day to tell them because then they’ll have the weekend to absorb the news.
Don´t be afraid to say the word “divorce.” Even small kids need to be told about the situation directly and concisely to understand what is happening. This does not mean that you should tell them every detail. They only need to know that this is not their fault, that you’ll always be there for them and that the marriage may end, but the family remains.
Questions are important
Always encourage them to ask questions and be prepared for them. Kids will want to know how the divorce will impact their lives, and you need to answer their questions with honesty. Some questions that may arise are:
- Who will I live with?
- Where is mom/dad going to live?
- Are we going to spend the holidays together?
- Will I be able to see my friends?
If you don´t know the answer to a question, tell them that you will get back to them as soon as you know it. And follow through.
Anticipating the changes
Don´t have the divorce talk the day before one of you moves out. Give them a few weeks’ notice at least. Counseling may also help you manage the situation to make them feel as little pain as possible.