How to tell your children about your divorce

Stephanie Vokral |

There comes a time after you and your spouse agree to follow through with divorce that you then have to let your family and friends know about your plans. This is not an easy task, particularly when children are involved.  While children are generally considered to be exceptionally resilient, how you tell your kids about your divorce can have a significant impact to their current and future selves. Take time to create your plan for sharing and utilize some of the tips below.

 

Pick the Right Words and Location, and Consider Your Child(ren)’s Age and Maturity Level

 

As I am sure you know, a preschooler will handle the news about a divorce much differently than a teenager.  The following are general tips and should be adjusted accordingly depending on your child(ren)’s age and maturity level.  

  • In most situations, parents should tell the kids about the divorce together, at the same time.  Both parents need to take responsibility for the decision to divorce.
  • Avoid giving children too many details.  Instead of details, children primarily need to know how this divorce will affect them and that they are still loved through it all.
  • Consider the location where you will share the news, and avoid restaurants or public locations.  (Who wants to get that kind of news in public?)
  • Invite your children to ask questions. Be willing to come back later to let them ask questions after they’ve had some time to think about things.
  • Reinforce with the children that the decision to divorce is an adult decision.  It’s normal for children to devise ways to bring their parents back together, or they may think they did something wrong which caused the decision to divorce.  Assure them this is not the case.
  • As they absorb their new reality, it is normal to observe clinginess, irritability, withdrawal and/or regression in development.
  • Be cautious telling your kids, “Mom and Dad will still be good friends” unless you honestly believe you will be able to maintain an amicable relationship. Think about how your children may define friendship.  It includes spending time with a friend, sharing secrets, going on outings to the movies and mall, and having overnight stays.  Instead possibly say, “Mom and Dad are still focused on loving and caring for you.”
  • Once children are informed, make every effort to maintain their daily routines so they have a sense of normalcy in part of their lives.

Break the News With Care

 

Regardless of their age, your divorce is your child(ren)’s loss too. Plan carefully before breaking the news, and if you and your spouse want the best process to ensure a peaceful relationship post-divorce, we would love to help.

 

At The Financial Knot, we specialize in a divorce process that is peaceful, collaborative, and family centered. 

 

 

Investment Advice offered through The Financial Knot, a registered investment advisor.