The dreaded discussion: Telling your kids about divorce, Part I

If you and your spouse are planning to divorce and you have children, breaking the news to them is probably something you are dreading. This feeling is understandable, given that parental divorce is often a major source of stress, anxiety and sadness for kids.

There may be no perfectly right way to break the news but some strategies are definitely better than others. Moreover, if you and your spouse will likely be sharing custody after the divorce, this talk with your children will be your first co-parenting experience and could set the tone for the future.

The first tip may seem obvious but it needs to be said: Don’t tell your children anything about the divorce until/unless you are sure it is going to happen. Many couples make attempts to reconcile and may go back and forth on the idea of divorce for months. In order to avoid scaring your kids, please don’t mention divorce unless you and your spouse have decided to file.

Next it’s important to plan what you’ll say and when you will say it. This may mean writing down ideas and getting your thoughts clearly in order before having the talk. You and your spouse should sit down with the children in the same room, if possible. You should both plan to be there, even if you are in separate rooms.

Scheduling the talk appropriately is crucial. You should budget at least an hour to give them the news, give them time to process and ask questions. Don’t try to squeeze it in before school or work, or before the children go to bed.

Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: The Huffington Post, “9 Tips for Breaking Bad News to Kids,” Armin Brott, Aug. 4, 2014

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