HOW TO TELL YOUR KIDS ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE......
One of the most stress inducing aspects of separation/divorce for co-parents is telling the children. As a family mediator, many of the families I work with are looking for advice on how to have this difficult talk with their children, so I have complied some of tips & tricks from the leading child psychologists and counsellors on how to have the talk in a supportive and loving way.
1. Tell Your Children Together
Ideally co-parents should sit down with all of their children together at the same time. Getting together as a unit allows co-parents:
· to keep the message consistent;
· to demonstrate that that you both can come together regarding the children’s well-being;
· to provide an environment that optimizes support; and,
· to provide an environment where children are comfortable enough to ask questions
2. Anticipate their Questions & Prep Answers Ahead of Time
Upon learning about their parents’ separation/divorce, It’s natural for children to ask a number of questions about how this transition will effect them. Prepare for common questions such as:
· Where will we live?
· When will I see mom/dad?
· Where will we go to school?
· What happens to our house?
You will significantly reduce your child’s anxiety about the separation/divorce if you and your co-parent can answer their questions with concrete answers during the initial talk. As such, it’s recommended that you hold off on telling them about the separation/divorce until you and your co-parent know the answers as well. This will show your kids that there is a well thought out plan that and they will still have consistent care and love from both parents during their next chapter.
3. Avoid Blame
The first conversation with your children about separation/divorce should be calm and reassuring. It goes without saying that blaming one parent for the separation/divorce and arguing in front of the children during this significant chat can wreak havoc on their emotional states post-separation. Even if you feel like the separation/divorce is the fault or cause of the other parent, avoid telling the children as studies have shown they are likely to take this information and interpret it as a betrayal, rejection or criticism of them.
4. Plan a Fun Family Event
After an emotionally heavy chat about the separation/divorce, plan an outing for the children for immediately after the talk. This will allow you and your co-parent to reinforce the message you are still a family and help the children cope with the news. Some fun examples include: bowling, a movie, ice-cream date or baseball game.