How to Tell Your Children You Are Divorcing
If you are a parent who is thinking about or is already in the process of divorce, you’re probably concerned about how to break the news to your children. When parents divorce, it has an impact on adult children, friends, and even distant family, but it’s usually minor children who experience the most stress from this event.
Even if your children have been aware of an ongoing conflict in the home, many hold out hope that conditions are going to improve. Once you are certain that you are going to go through with a divorce, it’s time to let them know. One thing that should be front and center throughout this entire process is the needs and feelings of your children. This is a conversation that your children will likely remember for the rest of their lives, so you want to minimize their pain and be as prepared as possible.
Present a United Front. When you do break the news, you and your spouse should try to do this together. You obviously have your differences, but this is one of the times that, if possible, you should come together. It’s not necessary that you go into specifics about who did what, but this is your opportunity to let your children know that things are going to change. You should both try to stress to your children that you are working together on their behalf.
Address All Children at Once. It may be tempting to leave young children out of the conversation, but this has proven time and again to be a mistake. Most experts agree that it’s best to speak to all the children together so that there isn’t a burden on one child to keep secrets from the others. If they all hear the same message at the same time, there can be no confusion.
Discuss Your Plan in Advance. Avoid going into this important conversation without a plan. Speak with your spouse in advance about what you will say and what you won’t. For example, you want to stress that what is happening isn’t their fault and that you both still love them. Blaming or playing a game of good cop – bad cop during this meeting is a bad idea.
Expect a Variety of Reactions. Depending on your children’s ages, their reactions to the news might vary. Some will yell or break down and cry, while others may be worried about how the divorce will impact their needs and schedule. For example, there may be fears about having to move or switch schools. Be ready to handle these emotions and possible objections.
Be Willing to Answer Questions. Leave plenty of time for this discussion, since your children may have some questions. They might want to know about the divorce process or if they will have a disruption in their schedule. Leaving them with unanswered questions will only add to their stress.
Offer Your Support Now and In the Future. Let your children know that you understand that divorce can be difficult and that you care about their needs. If this news comes as a shock to them, they may need some time to process it and adjust to the new schedule. Stress that they can come back and speak with you about this at any time. Depending on the child and the circumstances, you may also want to offer the option of counseling so that they can speak with an unbiased person about their feelings.
Speak with a Qualified Florida Family Law Attorney About Your Situation
Any divorce is emotionally challenging, but it is particularly so when there are minor children involved. You not only have to look out for your best interests but theirs as well. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, there are many factors to consider that you may wish to discuss with an experienced Florida divorce attorney.
Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, has more than 30 years of experience representing parties in divorce cases throughout Florida’s panhandle. We have offices in Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Sandestin and are happy to schedule a free and confidential review of your divorce or child custody case.
Contact us now at 850.912.8080 or online to schedule an appointment.