How to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to figure out.
There’s no one right way for how to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce. It certainly has bigger implications than telling your friends and family, as it impacts the kids daily life, their future and what they’ve known to be in their past as “normal”. I recently had someone ask me about how I did it, and while I know “how” it was done, I really don’t recall the specifics of what was said, so I decided to ask my oldest daughter who was 7 at the time what she remembers about this experience. She doesn’t remember anything in particular about being told her parents were divorcing which isn’t too surprising. So while there may be no “right” way to tell your children, there are some things that, if avoided, may allow for an easier conversation for your children.
- Don’t play the blame game – certainly if possible, do not place the blame of the divorce on your child’s parent.
- Don’t tell them “it’s not their fault” – of course it isn’t their fault, so why even suggest that could be a possibility! Instead, make it clear that divorce is a grown ups problem and not a children’s problem.
- Don’t get into details of the future unknowns. Stick to the solid facts they can rely on. They are loved. You will figure this all out. Everything is going to be okay. They still have two parents even if they aren’t married. Share anything you know for certain about the future parenting plan or living situation.
- Don’t tell them individually. If it is possible to have the conversation as a family with both parents present along with all the kids, this is better than individual conversations with one parent.
- Don’t overcomplicate the conversation. Keep it simple and brief. Kids do not understand adult relationships so no need to delve into much detail.
- Don’t lose control of your emotions. You do not want your children to feel afraid/nervous about their future.
- Don’t tell them and then leave them alone. If possible, do something together after as a family. This is ideal, but certainly not realistic for all situations. If you can share the news and then go to a movie, or bowling, etc. as a family, it may help soften their fear that they no long have family. Their family still exists, it just has a new setup.
You may have heard the quote from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This rings true for when you talk to your kids. Do not obsess over the exact wording, just make sure your kids feel they are loved and safe and they will be okay. And so will you! Remember, there may not be a right way for how to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce but there are more positive ways to present it and that will hep your kids feel confident, secure and loved.