Things to Say to Kids When Getting a Divorce

Family Meeting: Three Things to Say to Kids When Getting a Divorce

Children are one of your top priorities when considering divorce. Ideally, you and your spouse want to talk to kids about this decision together as a couple. Remember that this talk is already stressful enough for your children and for you. Adding blame and bitterness to it won’t help. Talk to your spouse about how you can show a united front. Make sure that you don’t neglect these essentials in your conversation:

“Mom and Dad’s relationship are not working out.”

You need to explain the reason you’re splitting up. There’s probably a more specific reason for your divorce other than your failed attempts at reconciliation. Your spouse might have cheated on you, or they might have a gambling addiction. You don’t need to give those details out to your children. Regardless of your issues, the truth of the matter is that you are not able to work out your marriage.

But you don’t want to confuse your kids by pointing fingers. When the blame game starts, two sides of the story will emerge. Yes, your spouse may have been unfaithful to you, but they can also accuse you of ignoring them or of not being there to fulfill their needs. When kids hear these things, understanding your breakup will be a lot harder for them.

Share with your kids why you’re separating — you owe that to them — but also learn to tame the blame. When you’re able to do this, it sets a positive atmosphere for when you discuss child-related matters later in the legal proceedings. Your spouse might be a lot more agreeable to what you want for child custody.

“Things may change, but we will still be a family.”

It’s crucial to give children a rundown of things that might change because of your divorce decision. You don’t want them to freak out when suddenly your spouse moves out. Tell them that it’s possible for them to have two houses. Tell them also that they might spend school days with one parent alone and then weekends with the other. Their lifestyles will probably change, and vacations might not be as frequent as before. Just help them know what to expect in the transition so that the adjustment won’t be as jarring as it normally is. This way, their concept of “family” will still be intact.

Ask your lawyer to walk you through the decisions that will affect your child directly. If you live near Nassau County, divorce attorneys who have extensive experience in child-related matters are plenty there. Consider visiting some law firms to find the right match for your needs.

“We love you very much.”

This is a highly emotional piece of news for your kids. They can have so many complex feelings — from sadness, anxiety, fear, down to frustration and anger. That’s why it’s important that as you end your conversation, you reassure them of your love. Tell them that it’s not them who are to blame for the breakup. You don’t love them less even when you choose to part ways. Also, tell them that they’re special to you all the same, no matter what.

You can’t expect kids to be okay immediately with your reassurance. It will take a long time for them to process things, perhaps way after the legal proceedings. Nonetheless, reassure them of your love now and then.

Divorce is never easy for children. It’s crucial to be extra careful and gentle when talking to them about it. Again, strive to be a team — a united team — as you and your spouse sit down with your children.

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