One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is telling the kids. As a parent, you do all that you can to protect your children and keep them from harm – this includes emotional turmoil. But at some point, you’ll need to discuss why the divorce is happening and give your kids an idea of what the family will look like in the future.
As a divorce attorney in Minnesota, I’ve helped many parents who struggled to inform their children about the divorce, and I would caution parents to think carefully about how they talk to their kids about the separation.
Make it a Joint Effort
Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, it’s important to remember that the two of you will be co-parents even after the divorce. You’ll be attending dance recitals, soccer games, graduations and weddings in the future, so it’s important to work together for the sake of your children. When breaking the news, it’s often best for children to hear it from both of their parents.
Avoid Blaming Your Spouse
It’s easy to let anger, frustration and other emotions get the best of you during such a difficult time, but it’s important to avoid blaming your spouse when telling your children about the divorce. This is another reason why you may consider breaking the news as a couple. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to use this opportunity to shift the blame onto the other spouse. Unfortunately, this often backfires and winds up traumatizing the children as a result.
Remember Your Audience
Think before you speak, and remember your audience. Avoid using adult words, blaming your spouse, or claiming that your spouse is abandoning you. Try to explain the reason for the divorce in a way that your children can understand, and omit unnecessary details. Your kids don’t need to know about an affair or someone’s bad spending habits. They simply need to know that your relationship isn’t working anymore, but that you still love them no matter what.
Consult with a Family Therapist
If you’re concerned about how your children will take the news, consider consulting with a family therapist as a couple to determine the best way to convey the message. These professionals have extensive experience in this department, and can help you break the news to your children.
Write an Outline
Work with your spouse to create an outline for the conversation. It may seem tedious, but knowing what you’re going to say will help you stay on topic.
These are just a few suggestions for communicating with children about the sensitive issue of divorce. Our family law attorneys are here to help our clients navigate divorce and can help you with your questions and concerns, call today!