One of the most difficult things about a divorce is telling your children that you and your spouse are separating, and they will now have two homes. A mental health professional can help you tell your children that you are divorcing. Meanwhile, we offer some suggestions.
- If at all possible, you and your spouse should tell your children about the divorce together in a family meeting.
- Allow enough time to have the discussion and allow your children time to think about what you have told them and to invite them to ask questions.
- Ideally, tell them when everyone’s time is less structured, say on a Saturday morning and ensure that you will both be around home that weekend. Do not tell them when they have someplace to go in 10 minutes or when you are about to embark on a business trip and won’t be at home for a few days.
- What you tell them depends on their age. Young tots do not need as much information about older children.
- Answer questions honestly. They may ask you things like, “Will our home be sold?” “Will I need to change schools?” Will I still be able to go to my dance [music, art, etc.] lessons?” “What about my after-school sports activities? If you do not know the answer, say “We don’t know yet.”
- Do not make promises you cannot keep. For example, don’t promise the children they will not have to change schools if you do not know that for sure. It is much better to say, “I don’t know” than to promise something that you may later not be able to follow through on.
- Assure them you and their other parent are still a parenting unit. You will still make joint decisions. Convey to them that you are both still their safety net.
What Not to Say to Your Children
Avoid allowing an older child to become your confidant. The children should be encouraged not to take sides. This means you do not share with them the reason for the divorce or try to blame the divorce on the other parent.
Do not talk badly about the other parent. Remember, the adage “the walls have ears.” This means do not badmouth the other parent to a friend or relative when you think the children are in the other room and won’t hear you.
For more ideas about how to discuss your divorce with your children, contact our divorce attorneys at Chase, Berenstein and Murray. You may also call us at 650-548-1171. We handle all aspects of divorce and help you choose the divorce process that will work best for you.