Talking to children about the complexity of divorce can be difficult for parents. You can’t exactly keep the kids in the dark about the upcoming changes, but knowing what to say – and what not to say – can be really hard.
With that in mind, here are a few places to start:
The cause of divorce
Your children may be curious about why your and your spouse are getting a divorce. This can be a tough question to answer because, no matter what their age, your kids don’t need to hear all the details.
It’s okay to discuss the cause of the divorce in broad strokes – but make sure that you and your co-parent are in sync. For example, you could say that you have drifted apart or realized that you’re better off as friends. This would give your children a softer view of a complex adult situation and create a non-blaming narrative.
Changes after divorce
You understand that once the divorce process is over, you, your spouse and your children will all be living a different life than you all are used to living. Your children may not fully grasp that there will be many changes soon to come. You could prepare your children for the upcoming changes by talking about where they’ll live, when they will get to see each parent and if they have to change schools.
You still love and care for your children
One of the most important things you can do for your children is to remind them that you both still love and care for them. Divorce is likely just as difficult for your children as it is for you. Right now, they need some consistency in their lives and you can provide that through reassurance that you and your co-parent will always be there.
While you prepare your talk with your children about divorce, you may need to work out a child custody order. You may wish to seek legal guidance to fully protect your parental rights.