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How Do We Tell the Kids?

December 26th, 2017 by Marta J. Papa

This is an area where it is important to tread softly and prepare ahead of time. You can make it much easier on yourself and your children by coming up with a well thought out plan of what to say. You also need to decide if one spouse will sit down with the kids or if you can sit down together and speak to them. The latter is preferable; divorcing spouses who are able to discuss this with their children together portray a united front and give the children a bit more of a feeling of security than one parent alone.

It is always important to emphasize that no matter what happens, Mom and Dad still love the kids with all their hearts and will always keep their focus and dedication to their children. If you can anticipate tough questions, deal with your own anxieties ahead of time, and plan carefully what you’ll be telling them, you will be better equipped to help your children handle the news.

What to say and how to say it

“Difficult as it may be to do, try to strike an empathetic tone and address the most important points right up front. Give your children the benefit of an honest—but kid-friendly—explanation.” 1

Tell the truth.

Your kids are entitled to know why you are getting a divorce. Explain it in a way that is both simple and honest. Do not forget to remind them that just because Mom + Dad may not be getting along, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love the kids anymore.

Say “I love you.” 

However simple it may sound, letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed is a powerful message. Tell them you’ll still be caring for them in every way, from fixing their breakfast to helping with homework.

Address changes. 

Preempt your kids’ questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different now, and other things won’t. Let them know that together you can deal with each detail as you go.” 2

Avoid blaming.

Now is not the time to be critical of your spouse. Focus on showing empathy to your children.

Present a united front and show restraint. Be respectful of your spouse during this discussion, even if its difficult right now.