If you’re heading for divorce, then you know that the process is emotionally charged. While it might be difficult to untangle your life from the one that you’ve built with your spouse over years or decades, you might also feel like you were treated unfairly during your marriage or that the divorce is unwarranted.
And while you try to find a way to cope with the emotional baggage of all of this, you also have to find a way to protect your children.
After all, news of a divorce can upend the stability that your children have enjoyed for a significant period, perhaps even their entire lives. Finding out that their parents are getting divorced and that their normal life may seem to no longer exist can leave them traumatized.
Effective ways to tell your children about divorce
As stressful as that sounds, you should take some comfort in the fact that there are things that you can do to make breaking the news to your children just a little bit easier. It might still be difficult to discuss marriage dissolution with them, but by following these steps you might be able to lessen the impact on them and help them transition to post-divorce life:
- Be honest: Your children deserve the truth about why you and your spouse are getting divorced. You don’t need to give details about infidelity or anything else that may negatively impact your child’s perception of either parent, but give them a broad but truthful reason as to why you’re ending your marriage. The fact that you and your spouse can’t get along anymore is a good example. The information that you provide can be tailored depending on the ages of your children.
- Don’t play the blame game: Even if you’ve been extremely hurt by your spouse’s actions, don’t blame them when discussing divorce with your children. This just creates confusion and resentment in your children, leaving them more emotionally damaged. Therefore, you might benefit from planning out what you’re going to say to your children so that your emotions don’t take over. Practicing restraint is key here.
- Talk about what will and won’t change: Remember, your children thrive on routine and stability. Divorce threatens that. Therefore, you might be able to comfort your children by discussing with them things that won’t change, such as their school, family gatherings, and extracurricular activities. You might also want to talk about what will change in tandem with how you’ll address them to minimize the impact that they’ll have on your child’s life.
- Listen: Your children are going to present a range of emotions, and that’s okay. Let them vent and otherwise process their emotions with you. Encourage them to ask questions and give them meaningful answers. Remind them that they’re not to blame for the divorce and that you’ll love them no matter what happens.
Find the support you need throughout your divorce
To take care of and protect your children, you need to take care of yourself. While this means finding support from your friends and family and ensuring that you get enough rest and eat healthily, it also means knowing that the legalities of your divorce are being competently handled.
By educating yourself about the process, you’ll be kept well informed of any developments or complications that require your attention. That way you can make fully informed decisions that are right for you and your children, and that set you on the path to post-divorce success.