Going through a separation or divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life.
It is hard enough, wrapping your head around the event, but trying to break the news to your children can be especially tricky.
Many parents struggle to have this conversation because they worry they may not be able to keep their emotions in control. They also wonder if protecting their kids from the pain of this news is what they should do.
Though it may feel like avoiding this conversation is the right idea, it is detrimental to them not to have an honest, age-appropriate conversation. If you avoid talking to them about these changes, in the end, it will potentially cause behavioural or emotional difficulties. While it is no doubt painful and pretty uncomfortable, having an open and honest conversation about the separation and divorce is the best thing to do.
How Do We Start?
Have Both Parents Break the News
It might be difficult for some couples, but ideally, a joint conversation with your children is the best option for a few reasons:
- They will get the same message from you both instead of a he-said, she-said scenario.
- It will show them that no matter what when it comes to parenting, you are both committed and on the same page.
- This will instils a sense of security that although family dynamics may change, you are still a family with a form that you will create together.
Appropriate Transparency is Crucial
You may feel uncomfortable at times during this conversation with your kids and want to be less than honest. It is essential to be transparent.
Children are often very good at calling out untruths from adults. Lying to them, even if you believe it is for their benefit will cause them to feel angry, resentful and hurt. If you don’t give your kids truthful answers, they will fabricate answers to quell anxiety.
There are age-appropriate guidelines to the discussion, and specific language may have to thought through. Still, honesty with your children is the best way forward.
Talking About Upcoming Changes
When kids are told their parents are getting divorced, they can not conceive of what this will look like for their day-to-day life in the future. You must let them know what they can expect when it comes to things like living situation and how much time they will have with each parent. If you yourselves don’t have all the answers yet, then communicate this with your kids and reassure them that you will share this information as soon as you have made the decision.
Do Not Push Your Children For a Reaction
Once the news has been shared, many parents want immediate feedback from their kids. But it is important to remember that children will all process the story differently. Some kids may feel confident in talking openly about their feelings, while others may struggle. While your intentions are good, pushing your children to give you a reaction before they are ready can be detrimental.
The best things you can do is to let your children know you love then and that you are both available to them whenever they are ready to share their thoughts and feelings or if they have more questions.
Separation and divorce processes are complicated for all family members. Communication may be difficult when pain and hurt are present, and emotions are running high. If you feel you would like some help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I can help facilitate open communication and help you support your kids to adjust to the changes that lie ahead.
If you would like to talk about this more, please do not hesitate to call me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be of help.