How do you tell your children you’re divorcing or separating?
It’s very natural to worry about telling your children you’re divorcing or separating; as parents you want to protect them.
You may have lots of questions running through your head and with everything that’s going on for you it can be difficult to think through this important step.
You may worry how they’re going to take the news. Will they blame you? Will they be able to cope with the changes that being a separated family inevitably brings? Are you going to be able to cope with their reactions?
Things to think about:
- How much stability do your children need at their age and with their personalities?
- Who will have most time for parenting?
- How will they get to and from school, friends, houses?
- If you have more than one child would they benefit from quality time alone with one parent?
- Agreeing rules in both houses can be a good idea:
- Bedtime, especially for older children.
- How long they can stay out with friends, how many nights a week they can go out
- Whether homework will be checked
- Agreeing times on computers and phones in each household will prevent your children playing you off against one another and it seeming more fun in one household than another
- Routines, meals, bedtimes, discipline for younger children will create greater security for them if it’s the same in both households.
Think about what you are going to say:
Use clear words that your children can understand. Phrases like “spending time apart” can be misunderstood and children may hang on to you getting back together.
Keep explaining to them that this is between the adults and it is not their fault.
Bear in mind that children don’t want to hear the reasons behind why you’re separating, who’s to blame or the details around your separation. They love you both.
Should you speak to the children together?
It can help you formulate what you’re going to say: you can agree on the words you’re going to use and how you might answer questions your children might ask.
Hearing you both say the same thing is re-affirming and shows you’re there to support and guide them.