Deciding to end a marriage and separating from your spouse is never an easy thing to do. However, when you have children together, this decision is no longer yours, nor do the consequences affect only you. Someone else’s life is about to change and, although not always for the worse, the way in which this change is announced matters. The younger the child is, the harder it will be for you to explain this; still, it is something that can be done. With this in mind and without further ado, here are several tips for telling your kids you’re getting a divorce.
First and foremost, you need to be honest and straightforward with your kids. Sure, a kid may not understand abstract concepts and thoughts but if there’s one thing they do understand it’s – emotions. Therefore, telling them everything is fine when it’s not, is not going to fix anything. In fact, lying to your children is bound to make things worse. Keep in mind that, one day, your kid is going to become an adult, and if you base your relationship on lies (even white ones), they will never be able to shake off that impression that you aren’t completely honest with them. In the long-run, a harsh truth always trumps a beautiful lie.
AVOID GIVING OUT THE DETAILS
Not a lot of spouses decide to separate due to the mere difference in opinion. More commonly, it was an unpleasant event that brought the breakup and, although, casting blame sometimes can’t be helped, this is not something you have to do in front of the child. Keep in mind that, no matter what happens, both of you are going to remain that kids’ parents, which is why you need to be cautious not to harm your reputation in the eyes of the child. Sure, by turning your child against your spouse you can temporarily hurt them but what happens when your child grows up and realizes what your angle was in all of that. Not to mention that this selfish act puts the needs of your child in the last place.
TRY TO ESTABLISH A SOMEWHAT NORMAL RELATIONSHIP
As soon as this takes place, emotions will be stirred up, and you will have a hard time thinking rationally, even when it comes to putting your child in the first place. However, this is something that needs to be done. If you need some help in achieving this, then so be it. The best course of action is to look for couples or family mediation to get some hot topics out of the way. When your kids notice that both you and your spouse are capable of maintaining a functional relationship, they will have a much easier time accepting what’s going on. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that it will become easy.
TELL THEM THEY DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE
Even in a situation where a child has to decide which parent they want to spend more time with, this doesn’t mean that they have to choose between the two. Both of you are still going to remain their parent, and they need to understand that this won’t change no matter what. Apart from this, you need to tell them that no matter what, both of their parents still care for them more than anything in the world.
TELL THEM IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT
Even though this may seem a bit obvious, you would be surprised just how easy it is for a child to assume that it’s their fault that their parents are splitting. Believing that this is implied is simply not good enough, you need to utter things like “It’s not your fault” or “It’s nothing that you did” in order for it to reach the kid. Most parents brush through this, believing that a kid is too young to understand, yet, they would be surprised at just how much an average kid understands. Remember one more thing, no matter how horrible the truth is, saying nothing is probably even worse, seeing as how it will cause your kid to fabricate their version of events. In turn, this usually leads to self-blame.
At the end of the day, you always need to put your kids first. A good separation is indeed better than a bad marriage, seeing as how the latter sometimes places kids in the middle of a hostile environment. Nevertheless, just because something is good for your kids doesn’t mean that it’s pleasant or easy to accept and understand. Therefore, you need to thread as carefully as possible. While this may be hard to pull off, it is just one of many tough choices that a parent has to make.