Many couples put off getting divorced because they are concerned about how it will affect their kids. Still, divorce impacts thousands of families each year, and often, if you can handle it maturely, your kids likely will be happier in the long run.
However, facing that first conversation about your divorce with your kids is daunting. How will they react? How can you support their fears about what divorce will mean for them?
Here are five things to consider as you talk to your children about your divorce:
- Talk to your children with your spouse. Showing them that this is a mutual decision will help them feel more secure.
- Remind them they will have a mom and dad in their life—that will never change, nor will your love for them.
- Tell them in an age-appropriate way. If you and your spouse are getting divorced because of intimacy problems or an affair that is now over, you don’t need to share that information with them. Just keep reassuring them that both their mom and dad love them very much.
- Emphasize that they are not the reason for the divorce. Even if the stress of parenthood is part of the reason you are divorcing, you need to reassure your children that they are not at fault. So, find a way to make it very clear that they shouldn’t blame themselves.
- Be ready for questions. Most likely they will ask about who will live where and when. If you don’t know the answers on that, be honest about that.
Always keep in mind that as you or your spouse move out, your child will ask more questions as more of what they have known as their regular life changes. As difficult as it may be, don’t speak ill of your former spouse if you want to have a solid co-parenting relationship. Trying to force your child to take sides is unfair to them.
Consulting with an experienced attorney before you file for divorce is your best move for a fair settlement and custody order. If you are in a domestic abuse situation or dealing with a mentally ill spouse or a spouse struggling with an addiction, a family law attorney can help you keep your children safe as you move forward.