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How to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2017 | Child Custody, Divorce |

Divorced picture with child header image

Divorce is rarely a happy occasion (although divorce parties are a thing now). If you and your spouse have kids, you’ll need to have the painful talk with them about your divorce. Your kids might already know that it’s coming, but the healthiest thing to do for them is to have an honest conversation about it and support them emotionally as they process the information and feelings that will inevitably surface. Read on for some helpful guidance in preparing for this talk.

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

– Albert Camus

Your child’s emotional well-being is most important

During every step of the divorce process, your kids will need extra emotional support – their world as they know it is changing in a significant way and can majorly affect their emotional development. Keep your kids’ emotional health in mind as you navigate telling them about your divorce. Failing to do so can result in behavioral problems in the future.

This is a good time to remind you that your emotional well-being is just as important. If you can, plan time for self-care activities to manage your stress around your divorce. Your kids will pick up on your calm demeanor and will likely feel more at ease. If your kids are really having a tough time emotionally, explore hiring a professional therapist who specializes in working with kids.

Plan a united front with your co-parent

The ideal way to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce is to do it as a family. You and your spouse should plan what you’ll say to them and agree on how you will deliver it. Putting up a united front will help build your kids’ security about the ordeal, knowing that even though their parents aren’t going to be together anymore, you are still a family. If you deviate, you’ll just confuse them, and you don’t want that to happen.

Don’t alienate the other parent

In the case of spousal abandonment, you’ll be alone in planning and having this talk with your child, and you may feel a lot of resentment. Any anger or resentment you have towards your spouse must be set aside for the sake of your kids’ emotions to avoid parental alienation.
Parental alienation is defined as interference with the kid’s relationship with their other parent, either covertly or overtly. This could look like asking your kid to choose sides, sabotaging visits, or in more extreme cases, actively influencing them to hate their other parent. If you do this, you are effectively destroying your kid’s ability to love and be loved by their other parent. The result of this programming on your child is potentially devastating. It can lead to depression, substance abuse, other kinds of addiction, low self-esteem, and poor impulse control.

If you have more than one child, address them together

This is step one of the talks. Step two involves having another chat with them individually after the initial conversation with the whole family. This way you’ll be able to answer questions at an age-appropriate way and reinforce their feeling of support.

Remember that Google is your friend!

There are lots of resources on the details of what to say, how to say it and customizing what you say for certain age groups. As long as you (and hopefully your spouse) take a measured and mature approach to planning your talk, you will be able to move through this challenging stage of the divorce with minimal negative consequences.

Seek the counsel of a family law attorney

For professional guidance, contact Diana Whipkey Young of the Young Law Firm, LLC today.