Talking to your children about an upcoming divorce can get very tricky. No matter how you feel about it — maybe you filed for divorce and you think it’s the right move for your family — you have to understand that it can be quite difficult for them. The way that you break the news is very important.
To help you, here are five key tips to keep in mind:
1. Do not blame anyone
You know that you shouldn’t blame the children, of course, but you also want to make sure you do not blame your spouse. It may be their fault, but that is still the children’s father or mother. They still love that person. Don’t force them to pick sides or put them in an uncomfortable situation.
2. Talk to your spouse first
Make sure that the two of you are on the same page. Make sure that the divorce is not just some idea you have considered, but something that is really going to happen. Do not tell the children too soon or too late. Work with your spouse to figure out when is the right moment.
3. Talk to the children together
Don’t rush to be the first to tell the kids about the split. Don’t do it while your spouse is at work. Gather everyone together: you, your spouse and all of your children. Tell them together and tell them all at the same time. You do not want to risk them finding out from someone else.
4. Be sensitive
Remember that the children’s lives are going to change in ways that they did not see coming and that they realistically may not want. This could make them feel very uncomfortable and upset. They’re used to having a certain structure in their lives, and they feel like they’re losing that. Be ready to comfort them and help them through it.
5. Let them ask questions
Yes, you want to start by presenting them with the news and talking about how life is going to change and why it is happening. But don’t forget to give them a chance to respond. Ask if they have any questions or things they want to say. Really listen to them when they speak. Make them feel like it’s a dialogue. This can help calm their fears and give them some aspect of control in the situation.
The next steps
As a parent, your divorce could get complicated and it will heavily involve your children. Make sure you know what rights both you and your ex have to spend time with the kids. Take the time to look into all of the steps you’ll need to take in California to protect those relationships.