Telling your children about your divorce is one of the first difficult steps in the divorce process, but it is a necessary step. The children need an adequate understanding of what is occurring with the family and how their world is about to change. And, it is equally important that your children hear about your divorce from you rather than from someone else. The question of “How do you tell your kids that you are getting divorced?” was researched and then written about by our University of North Florida Psychology Intern, Ashley Pisciotanno. The article covers some guidelines and helpful hints that you can use when telling your kids about your divorce.
Both parents, possible, should put together a plan before telling their kids they are getting a divorce (AFCC, 2011). This plan should include what will be changing and what will be remaining the same for them. Speak to your kids with your spouse present a couple weeks prior to your physical separation if possible. Talk to your kids when there is not much going on so they can have time to talk to you after you tell them. Also, according to Fagan and Churchill, letting the school know what is happening to the family is important so that the teachers and administrators are aware of why your kids may be upset at school or not performing as usual.
Further, when you are telling your kids, make sure you tell them in an appropriate manner. Explain to them that things are not working out between you and your spouse and you both are unable to get along despite trying. Do not provide any developmental inappropriate details, and keep it simple. Most importantly, let them know it was you and your spouse’s decision and that is has nothing to do with them. It will also be important that both parents are not disparaging the other parent in front of the children and appear to be supportive of the other.
After telling them, be available to answer any questions your children may have. Reassure them that they are loved by both parents and they will still be seeing both parents (if that is true). During the following days after you tell them, keep good communication between you and your kids. Make sure you show them your support, keep them up to date on any new changes, and observe their behavior in the event they are having difficulty coping with the news. If they are, talk to them and listen to their fears, worries, and concerns. Given them lots of reassurance that things will be okay despite the changes.
Again, your children want to feel safe and loved. Make sure you tell your kids everything will be okay and that you will all get through this together. This process will work best if parents work together and are civilized towards each other. Handling a divorce calmly will give your children clarification that everything is going to be ok (Parenting SA, 2016).
For more information on what to tell your children about divorce and how to adjust to divorce take D’Arienzo Psychological Group’s Online Course Healthy Divorce Healthy Kids (https://www.drdarienzo.com/health-divorce-healthy-kids/) or call our office for further assistance (904-507-7294) and speak with one of our divorce specialists.