Talking to children about divorce

Making the decision to end a marriage and go through with a divorce is never easy and many individuals spend months or even years struggling to make things work. For parents, making the decision to divorce is even more complicated as moms and dads must consider their own feelings, emotions and general wellbeing as well as those of a child.

Let’s face it, there’s never going to be an opportune time to tell your son or daughter that you’re getting divorced. That being said, there are times that are better than others as well as things that parents can do and say to lessen the sting and to help a child cope with the varied and inevitable changes that lay ahead.

The Timing And Setting Are Important

While there will likely never be a time when it’s easy to tell a child that you are planning to divorce, it’s best to do so in an environment in which a child feels safe and comfortable. Avoid breaking the news in a public place or somewhere that a child may feel awkward or embarrassed if he or she cries or gets emotional. It’s also a good idea to break the news when a child has a couple of days at home to process everything.

Be Honest, But Not Too Honest

When discussing divorce with a child, it’s important to choose your words wisely. It’s a good idea to have a clear idea of the information and emotions you want to convey beforehand and to rehearse what you want to say and how you want to say it. Clear and simple communication is best. Don’t send mixed messages by telling a child that you still love each other and don’t over share or provide details related to a split that aren’t appropriate for your child to know.

Be United And Civil

Breakdowns in communication are common among couples who choose to separate and divorce. However, when delivering news of a split, it’s important that parents do their best to shift the focus away from their own frustration and pain and onto a child and his or her emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. It’s wise to discuss beforehand what you plan to say and have a plan for how to respond to both initial and future questions.

While divorce can be difficult on children, there’s likely nothing that your child wants more than to see you smile, laugh and be happy again. Yes, there will be challenges as your family adjusts to a new way of interacting and being, but these changes can be positive if you and an ex work together.