Telling the children about the divorce is the one thing that you dread. You know that it may upset them. You know that it will change their lives. While you and your spouse have talked it over and decided what you want to do, making your peace with the decision, you do not know how the kids are going to take it.
Don’t rush into this or take it lightly. The key to making things go smoothly for the kids is to really think your way through this conversation before it happens. A few key things to consider doing include:
1. Don’t keep it from anyone
Never pick and choose whom you want to tell. Some parents think that young kids do not need to know while older kids do, for instance, but that’s a concerning judgment call to make. It sends a negative message to the younger children. While you may determine what details they need to know based on their age, you never want to keep it from anyone, even for a short time.
2. Gather the family
You should all be present for this conversation. You. Your spouse. All of the kids. Do not break the news to some and then decide to tell others at a later date. Do not do it without your spouse. This change impacts the entire family, so the entire family needs to be there. The kids need to know that you both love all of them just the way you always have.
3. Choose a comfortable place
You want to make your kids feel as comfortable as possible during this process. Choose a familiar place. Generally, this just means having the conversation at home. Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re creating a memory for them that will define part of their childhood. You want to make it as positive as you can.
4. Think about the timing
Similarly, timing is very important. For one thing, you never want to blurt this out without putting any thought into it, perhaps in a moment when you’re feeling emotional. You also want to avoid other big moments in their lives. Some examples could be taking a driver’s test, going to prom, graduating from high school or middle school, or celebrating a birthday.
5. Answer their questions
Some parents simply want to tell their kids something like this and have them accept it. That’s not realistic. They’re going to have questions and concerns. Prepare to answer them. Make it a two-sided conversation. Set aside enough time that you do not have to leave or cut it short before they feel satisfied.
After telling the kids, it’s time to really dig into your legal options regarding custody schedules, child support, visitation rights and much more.