How do you tell your children that you are getting divorced? Children naturally want their parents and their family to stay together. This is one of the most painful conversations you will have. Usually your school-age kids have some idea that your marriage is unhappy, but the thought of your ending it will be a shock. In Parents magazine, Jeanette Moninger offers some tips for making it a little bit easier:
Present a united front, using the word “we” as much as you can, and avoid anger or bitterness by keeping your children’s wellbeing in mind. Include the whole family, and follow up with each child separately to try to answer their questions. Moninger suggests you be sure to make certain important points:
- “You know that Mom and Dad have been having problems. We’ve tried to fix this, but things aren’t working out.”
- “We will always be your mom and dad. But we aren’t going to be husband and wife any more. Your dad [or mom] and I are getting a divorce.”
- “We both love you very much. Nothing will ever change that love or the fact that we will always be here for you.”
- ” You are great kids. This is our fault, not yours.”
Change and loss are the big issues and greatest fears for your children. You should be prepared for all kinds of reactions. It’s normal for children to think first of their own immediate concerns: “Am I still going to have my birthday party?” Be prepared for tears, yelling, and slamming doors. Be ready with reassuring hugs.
“Even the most amicable of separations creates an earth-shattering change for any child,” wrote Ziba Kashef on babycenter.com, “School-age kids know that divorce means their parents’ marriage has ended. They may have friends whose parents are divorced and may be familiar with the concept of a mom and a dad living apart. …They’ll be anxious about things like where they’ll live and go to school, and they’ll likely have a lot of detailed questions for you, so be prepared with some answers.”
School-age children can be amazingly resilient and able to adapt. What they need most from their divorcing parents is reassurance. Be sure they can maintain their accustomed routines. Be available to answer their questions honestly. Give them plenty of love and affection during this difficult time.
The seasoned family law and divorce lawyers at the McGrath Law Firm, founded by attorney Peter McGrath, will walk you through every step of the challenging divorce process to address your concerns and achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. From spousal support, child support, fault, and equitable division of property and debt to valuations, pre-nuptial agreements, and restraining orders, the experienced attorneys at McGrath Law Firm have a successful track record in all aspects of divorce law. Call us to schedule your consultation at (800) 283-1380.