Anyone going through a divorce knows that it can be a difficult process, and explaining your divorce to your children will likely be the hardest part. There is no easy way to tell your kids you’re getting divorced, but there are some steps you can take to make it easier on them.
The impact of a divorce on the children involved is tremendous. Informing your children of your decision to divorce is an extremely important and delicate situation, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Taking the time to prepare properly for this necessary conversation is vital to the emotional well-being of your children.
Ideally, you should meet with your spouse before sitting down for your family meeting. Agree upon what you will say and how you will answer your kids’ questions. Ample preparation can help prevent contradictions or arguments in front of your kids. Although getting together with your soon-to-be-ex may not be possible under certain circumstances, such as abuse, you should do what you can to set aside your hurt and anger for the sake of your children. If you absolutely cannot do so, consider involving a family counselor or therapist.
It is usually best for everyone if both parents tell the children together. This helps to reinforce your statements that although you will no longer be married, you will always be their parents and continue to love them unconditionally.
What to Say
You must be honest with your children. Otherwise, you run the risk of permanently betraying your children’s trust. It is critical for children to be able to rely upon their parents to tell them the truth throughout the divorce process.
Provide an honest, age-appropriate explanation as to why you are getting a divorce. You certainly don’t need to include every detail, but be sure to provide enough information for your kids to adequately prepare for the upcoming changes in their lives. Cover how this decision will immediately affect their lives. This includes where the children will live, which parent they will live with and details regarding visitation and contact with the other parent. Reassure your children that both of you will always love them unconditionally and explain that the reasons for your divorce have nothing to do with them.
Provide ample opportunity for your children to address their concerns and to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest about it. Maintain an open atmosphere so that your children feel comfortable expressing their feelings. When appropriate, try to include your children in certain decisions where there is a choice, such as where to live.
Telling your children that you are getting divorced is an emotional and necessary part of the divorce process. While there is no easy way to accomplish this task, you can help your kids cope with the news by collaborating with your spouse, preparing for the conversation and being honest. Children can be remarkably resilient when they are told the truth about a difficult situation.
For more information about divorcing in Pennsylvania please consult our divorce law practice page.