Every breakup comes with its own set of challenges for each person involved. It’s difficult enough to deal with the end of a relationship and what that means for your own life, but with the added responsibility of parenthood those challenges multiply.
Telling children about an upcoming divorce can be a difficult conversation for any parent. Divorce brings any number of changes to a family dynamic, so parents can do well to prepare for sharing this news with children. Your preparedness can make all the difference in how a divorce affects your kids moving forward.
It’s important to consider the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved dealing with a divorce. In any case of mistreatment, prioritize physical safety over all else. When it’s safe and feasible to do so, consider taking time to prepare how you’ll share the news of a divorce with the children.
Be honest and upfront
Withholding important information or outright lying to children about what’s happening during a divorce is an unproductive and potentially damaging way to handle the situation. Children don’t need to know every detail of why the marriage is ending, but they do need to know how this impacts their lives and what changes they can expect to see.
Be open and honest about what a divorce means for their everyday life. Children benefit from having necessary information at hand, so be open to their questions and concerns when sharing the news and throughout the divorce process. Consider their perspective and work to keep them informed and in the loop about changes that will impact them.
Prepare for a reaction
No matter how the family dynamic operated before, a divorce will bring major changes to every family unit. Some children will react to news of a divorce with sadness, confusion and disappointment while others feel relief and even joy that the household tensions may dissipate.
Parents should prepare for a reaction one way or another. Give children time to process the news and let them know it’s okay to ask questions and feel what they feel. For additional help in preparing for and responding to a child’s reaction, consider seeking out family counselors or child psychologists for strategies to handle the situation within your family.
Prioritize children during the divorce
The children need to be the top priority in a divorce between parents. Both parents are responsible for the child’s safety, wellbeing and success long after a marriage ends. Remember the importance of putting them first throughout the divorce.
Preparing for a divorce when children are involved is a challenge for any parent. Utilize the resources and advise available to you when considering how you’ll handle this task before, during and after a divorce.