Divorce is often the last resort for couples trying to do everything they can to keep their family together. If all else fails, and you are considering divorce, the odds are that your largest concern is how to tell your children about the dissolution of their family unit.
Emotions can run high when a marriage comes to an end, and the parents in a family need to be the adults that their children need for security. Old arguments and hurt feelings need to be put aside between marriage partners when it’s time to tell your children about divorce.
Children of all ages are affected by divorce. For parents that are worried about starting and properly handling a discussion with their children about splitting, it’s important to remain calm. Let’s look at a few strategies for talking to your children about your divorce.
Prepare for the Age of Your Child
Toddlers are likely going to have a very different reaction to being told about divorce than preteens. It’s up to both parents to prepare for this type of tough conversation, depending on the children’s age.
2-5 Years Old
- Please don’t assume that younger children will not be affected or remember a split in their household. Toddlers tend to be self-focused and may believe that the divorce is somehow their fault. Lots of reassurance needs to be given. Be prepared to answer any questions as children this young may have difficulty understanding the concept of such large changes to their family.
5-9 Years Old
- Older kids may have a better understanding of what divorce will mean for their future and communicate their feelings. All concerns need to be openly addressed, and communication encouraged. Both parents should display a positive attitude.
10+ Years Old
- Older children and teens will likely have a better understanding of divorce, and parents can discuss more details with them. Talk to them about the changes that will happen within the family, including custody and living arrangements.
Talking about a marital split with your kids needs to be a team effort. Putting your differences aside is essential during this type of serious discussion. Talk about your strategy before just diving in, and be prepared to answer some tough questions. Stressing that the love of both parents will not change is very important.
There is no advantage to approaching a divorce talk with your kids with doom and gloom. Kids need to have the support and reassurance of both their parents when discussing their split. A positive outlook on embracing the changes that will take place can help comfort your kids about the future.
Divorce means more than just you and your partner split up. It means that everyday life will change for the whole family. Change can be scary for children, so the most important aspect of your separation discussion should revolve around reassurance. Let your kids know that they can still rely on their family unit no matter what happens in the future.
Divorce is never easy, and it can be devastating to the children involved. Presenting a calm and united front when you talk to your children about your separation can be helpful. Be prepared to talk openly and honestly about the current situation and the future and be ready to answer some tough questions. Above all, reassuring your kids that they have the love and dedication of their parents will help your family weather the tough changes of a divorce.