"Pass the peas, please. Oh, by the way, your mom (dad) and I are getting a divorce." There is no easy way to break the news to children of parents getting a divorce. Though it is never easy, it is right to tell the kids about the divorce as soon as the decision is finalized. Sometimes you just must pull the band-aid off.
Breaking the News to Your Kids
Before you share with the kids you want to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about how to communicate it and the delivery. This is news you want to share together as a unit. Hopefully, you and your future ex can come together and work out the best strategy to tell your children. Sometimes a loose script of the conversation can help parents out. Now that you are on the same page about how you tell the kids about the divorce, you want to find the right time. Honestly, there never is a great time but you want to find the best time. It is a good idea not to do it around major holidays or birthdays. You also want to avoid days that hold a major event for your child like a big game, performance, or before a big test they have already been stressing over. During the big talk, don't let things get personal. If your children do pose personal questions it is best not to answer. For example, is they ask if someone cheated and if they did, do not answer that question. Do not put the blame on the other parent in front of your child. "Your mom just doesn't want to work on it anymore." "Your dad started a new relationship." Neither of these responses is appropriate for a child to hear. Of course, this can be very difficult, especially when anger and hurt are the emotions at play. Leave it at simply, "We have some personal reasons why we both decided on a divorce." Your child might already know the reasons and they might have heard your fighting. There is still no need to confirm anything. Take a deep breath, you will get through this. After the talk, you might be surprised that they are not as shocked and surprised as you thought. Kids don't behave as adults and they will need time to process. After the delivery it is nice to do something normal as a family that you often do. Go out for pizza, go see a movie, have a game night. Show them that even though things are changing it is not going to be completely different. Give the children some time to settle into the knowledge then be sure to check in on them and ask about how they are feeling. Try to get your child to discuss it but do not pry too hard. They might open over time.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
As the divorce gets closer, be sure to keep the kids in the loop. Both parents should let them know how things are progressing from their side. "I'll be moving in two weeks would you like to see my new place? I'd love for you to help me pick out some new stuff for your new bedroom." "Your dad will be moving out soon, do you want to help me pack up some stuff to make your new room homey there too?" You want them to know it is still happening but also involve them in some of the fun aspects of the change. To tell the kids about the divorce is not easy for anyone, adults or children, but if you keep the lines of communication open and open arms and hearts, you will all make it through this change together. Michael Puhl of Puhl Law Group, P.C. is a board-certified family law attorney. He was recently selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list in 2016. Call 972-569-3166 for an appointment.