The U.S. divorce rate has gone down in recent years. But there are still about 800,000 American couples deciding to call it quits every year and get a divorce.
In some cases, these couples are able to go their separate ways without having to worry about explaining their divorce to their kids. But in others, they’re forced to sit their kids down and deliver some of the worst news of their young lives.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse fall into the second category, it’s important for you to learn how to talk to kids about divorce before you do it. It’ll help you make the most of a bad situation while you’re speaking with your children about your upcoming divorce.
Here are some tips that you can put to good use when you’re discussing divorce with your kids and trying not to devastate them.
Pick the Right Time to Talk to Your Kids
Did you and your spouse just decide that you’re going to get a divorce?
Before you rush right in and tell your kids about it, give your decision some time to breathe. You obviously don’t want to tell your kids that you’re getting divorced if there’s even a tiny chance that one or both of you could change your minds.
You also don’t want to tell your kids at a time when there is a chance they might be distracted or not prepared to hear what you have to say. You shouldn’t drop a divorce bombshell on them while they’re walking out the door to go to school or getting ready for their big basketball game.
If you and your spouse are committed to getting a divorce, plan to sit your kids down on a Saturday afternoon when they don’t have anything going on for a few hours. It’ll give you plenty of time to explain the situation and field questions and concerns from them.
Make Sure Both Parents Are Present for the Conversation
If you don’t remember anything else with regards to how to talk to kids about divorce, remember this: Both you and your spouse have to be in the room when you tell your kids you’re getting a divorce.
You and your spouse might be on terrible terms right now. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce, you might not even be speaking to one another.
But don’t let that stop you from making sure you’re both around to talk to your kids about your divorce. You’re going to send the wrong message if only one of you sits down with your kids.
Steer Clear of Arguing With Your Spouse During the Discussion
As we just mentioned, you and your spouse might not be on the best of terms at the moment. You might have some hatred in your heart for your spouse as a result of something they said or did to lead to you asking for a divorce.
But you should not allow your kids to see any signs of this hatred that you have for their mother or father. You need to do your absolute best to hide it so that there isn’t any unnecessary tension in the room when you sit down with them.
You also need to avoid getting into arguments with your spouse while you’re discussing your divorce with your kids. It’s a good idea to go into your sit-down meeting with your kids with a plan in place. You and your spouse should know what you’re going to say and be on the same page.
Avoid Getting Too Deep Into Any Divorce Details
At some point during your conversation with your kids, one of them is going to ask the question on all of their minds. “Why are you and Mom/Dad getting divorced?” they’ll ask.
You should be prepared to provide them with a good answer. But at the same time, you don’t want to get too deep into it, especially if the reason is something scandalous that could hurt your kids in some way.
Give your kids a somewhat vague answer that satisfies them without telling them too much about what’s going on. You shouldn’t give them any more information than they need to hear.
Stress How Much You and Your Spouse Love Your Kids
At the end of the day, you and your spouse might not be in love anymore. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still love your kids to the moon and back.
Throughout the course of your talk with your kids, you should stress over and over (and over!) again how much you love them. Your kids are going to go through a tough time and they need to know how much their parents love them despite their divorce plans.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Kids Following Your Talk
All kids respond to the news of their parents getting divorced a little bit differently.
Some kids are able to see the silver lining (“Yay! Two Christmases!”), while others are understandably devastated by the news. It’s your job to monitor them to see how they respond to the news both in the moment and later on.
If you suspect your child might be struggling to come to terms with your divorce, you may want to take them to talk to someone about it. It could work wonders for their ability to process the news you delivered to them.
Knowing How to Talk to Kids About Divorce Can Make All the Difference
Learning how to talk to kids about divorce is one of the last things you ever want to do as a parent. But it’s important for you to do it if you and your spouse are splitting up.
By making the proper preparations, you can give your kids the news gently and help them wrap their heads around it. You can also show your kids that you and your spouse are still every bit as committed to their happiness as ever before.
Read our blog to find more informative articles on dealing with a divorce.