Author: Danielle Forshee, Psy.D ,LCSW
So, you’ve decided you’re getting a divorce. Now for the hardest decision of all- informing your children.
Many parents avoid telling their children that they are getting a divorce, and find themselves debating over what and how to tell them.Avoiding this topic with your children altogether is a short-term way of managing your own anxieties. Not talking with your children prior to a divorce can result in many negative psychological and emotional outcomes for your child. Avoidance of this topic can also inadvertently lay the foundation for the potential of long-term parent-child conflict and resentment.
Here are some tips for those couples who have made the decision to divorce, and trying to figure out the best way to tell your children:
- Parents should inform your children together, as a unit, that you are divorcing. Explain what a divorce means, and what it does not mean. Explain why you are getting a divorce in a developmentally-sensitive way (a way your child will understand).
- Explain what your divorce will look like in the context of your current household. What changes should they expect in their daily lives before, during and after the divorce?
- Parents should avoid placing blame on one another, even when the divorce is a unilateral decision.
- Make the transition for your children as predictable as possible, and remain as consistent as possible with what you say and do.
Reassure your children through your actions that their needs will continue to be met, and that their relationship will not be compromised with either parent.