Divorce is never easy, especially for children. The way you break the news to your children can direct the course of your children’s emotional and psychological state throughout the divorce process. The approach you and your spouse take when having the divorce talk with your children carries great weight, so make sure you do it the right way.
Before we get into a list of things you should and shouldn’t say to your children after you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it is important to remember that this news should come from both parents. You and your spouse should plan what you are going to say to your children in advance as having a united front is one of the best ways to help your children cope with the news of divorce.
Tell your children how this will affect them.
It is vital that your children come out of the conversation knowing how this decision will affect them. Tell your children not only about your decision, but also of the ramifications of that decision. Will this change where they live, where they go to school and how often they will see both of their parents? These are things your children need to know.
Tell your children where they are going to live.
In the same vein, it is important to tell your children that their living situation will likely change, even if you are unsure of all the details at the time you have this conversation. Whatever you tell your children, make sure they know that things will change in this regard.
Tell your children that you both love them.
Above all, perhaps the most important thought you should communicate to your children is that you and your spouse love them very much, and your decision to divorce is in no way their fault. Tell them that no matter what happens, your and your spouse’s love for them will not change. Remember that after the conversation, your children will likely need plenty of reassurance that they are loved and reassurance that they will be okay through all of the change.
Don’t use accusatory language.
Blaming your spouse, a third party, or even inadvertently blaming your children for the divorce is one of the best ways to emotionally and psychologically traumatize your children. Blaming, whether overtly or subtly, is something that should never enter this type of conversation.
Don’t divulge too many details.
While you want your children to be aware of your decision to divorce and how this will affect them, there are certain details about your reasons for divorce that they have no need to know about. Children may ask why their parents are getting divorced and it is okay to tell them something like “we did not want it to come to this, but we cannot seem to fix our relationship.” However, too many personal details should be avoided. Sharing too much information usually does more harm than good.
Don’t oversimplify your explanation.
Just as divulging too many details about your reasons to divorce can be harmful, so also is oversimplifying your explanation of the situation. If the talk you and your spouse have with your children leads them to believe that nothing will change, you’ve done it wrong.
After you have finished explaining your decision to your children, be ready to answer their questions, be sensitive to their feelings and give them ample time to process the news.
If you and your spouse have decided that divorce is the best course of action, we invite you to speak with one of our experienced Colorado divorce attorneys. We have four offices in Colorado to provide convenient representation to individuals facing both contested and uncontested divorce. To learn more about your options during this time, get in touch with us today!