According to a report by the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and the number is even higher in subsequent marriages. However, the divorce process is not easy, especially if there are children involved.
If you and your spouse have agreed on a divorce, one of your most important considerations is your kids. Here’s how to explain the divorce process to them.
Plan the Conversation in Advance
Informing your children about your impending divorce is one of the most painful and difficult conversations you will ever have. Talk to your soon to be ex-spouse and develop a plan about what you’re going to say to the children. This will shield them from the pain and anger associated with a divorce.
Ensure you also choose a day to talk to the children. Do not have the divorce conversation on a special day or on a holiday to avoid associating the bad news with the special event. If you can’t agree with your spouse, ensure you use a mediator or a counselor to help with the planning process.
Let the Children Know the Divorce Is Not Their Fault
Most kids from broken families believe that they’re the reason for the divorce, blaming it on their poor grades and arguments with the parent vacating the home. When having the conversation, let your child know that they had nothing to do with the divorce.
You can do this by:
- Gently explaining to them why you chose to have a divorce
- Answering all their questions and being patient with them while they go through their confusion
- Reassuring them that both of you will still love and support them despite the divorce
When children get the love and support they need during the divorce process, it will be easy for them to come to terms with all the changes. However, this doesn’t happen immediately; it takes time.
Do It Together
When you are in the middle of the divorce process, even being in the same room can be difficult. However, it’s essential to work together to explain to your children about the divorce. Your children need to hear the news from both of you.
When breaking the news, call a family meeting and tell all the children at the same time. You can later have a follow-up conversation with your older children to ensure they are okay. However, if you’re unable to do it together, hire a conflict mediator to help you develop a plan.
Talking to your children together shows them that you are still a team even if you’re getting divorced. This is key to ensure that they feel loved and cared for.
Be Honest About the Reason for the Divorce
While you should leave out some specific details, you must explain to the children why you’re divorcing. Kids are often curious, and they will want to know everything behind the divorce. If you have older kids, be ready for a million questions.
When explaining the reason for the divorce, avoid being personal or laying blame on your ex. Give a general explanation of why everything is happening the way it is. This information may mentally prepare them for the difficult times ahead.
You may tell your child that you and your spouse tried to save the relationship, but nothing works, and the best thing is to live your separate lives.
Tell Your Kids About Upcoming Changes in Their Lives
A divorce will bring a lot of changes to your lives; whether you choose to live together during divorce or one of you decides to move out. The children should know about all these changes beforehand. Explain to them what to expect and how it will affect their lives.
Explain about the living arrangements and how you will share custody of the children. You should also tell them about all other aspects of their lives that will not be affected by the divorce. Tell them if they will still go to the same school or still attend the same dance class.
Tell Them About Who Is Leaving Home
If you don’t plan on living together after the divorce, let your children know which parent is leaving, when they’re doing so and where they will be staying. You should also explain to the children when they will be spending time with the parent leaving. Don’t forget to reassure your children that you two still love them despite the divorce.
Be Ready To Answer All Their Questions
After breaking such life-altering news to your children, there will be a lot of follow-up questions. Be ready to answer the questions honestly. However, if you don’t have all the answers, tell them you will explain when you figure things out.
The older children may ask financial or legal related questions; ensure you tackle those skilfully. Don’t let them in on every detail about the divorce process.
Don’t Let the Children Make Important Decisions About Divorce
If your children are older, they will want to be involved in the divorce process. They will want to make some choices, such as where they will live and which parent they will spend more time with. Please don’t allow them to make such important choices.
These are key choices that only you and your spouse should deal with. Don’t ever put your kids in a position where they have to choose between you and your spouse.
Are You Ready to Have a Conversation About Your Divorce Process With Your Children?
If you are getting a divorce, having a conversation about it with your children is inevitable. While this might be the most difficult conversation you will ever have with your kids; you might make it easier by planning and being prepared.
The divorce process is different for everyone. However, the changes it brings are almost similar. From the children not having one parent around to moving around from one home to another, informing the children about the divorce is essential to prepare them for the impending changes.
For more tips, ensure you check out our other posts.