With divorce rates in America topping over 50%, the sad truth is that many parents will be faced with telling their children they are getting divorced. Divorce can have negative effects on children, but based on how it is handled, divorce can also have the potential of making family situations better. Kids are smart. Because the relationship has likely already shown signs of trouble, the news may not come as a complete shock to them. Some kids may even feel a confusing sense of relief. How and when to tell children is an important factor, however. Here are some guidelines to help. Why Divorce Isn't Always Bad For The Kids
- Decide ahead of time when, where, and how to break the news to your children. Choose a time that will allow them ample opportunity to absorb the news when they do not have to rush off to school or sports activities. Divorce is a big change and often represents loss. Deliver the news with the same sensitivity you might use if telling someone about a death. Divorce is a death of the current relationship and like death it may bring up many feelings.
- Ideally, it is best for parents to notify their kids together and keep a united front. Let the kids know that 'we' made this decision and 'we' are doing what we feel will have the best outcome in the end. Do not blame one parent over another even if you feel the other parent is to blame. What is important now isn't whose fault it is; what is important is getting through this time as gently as possible.
- Deliver the news as calmly and sensitively as possible. If you are a blubbering basket case, you will be more likely to frighten your children. On the flip-side, if you act like a robot, they may get the message that you don't care. Children have their own feelings yet they will be inclined to follow your lead so be kind, sensitive, approachable, and calm. The more confidence you have that this is what you must do, the more likely your kids will find confidence, too. During Divorce: Act Rationally, Not Emotionally
Give kids a basic reason why without putting blame on either party. "We've been fighting too much and we need to live apart so we can stop hurting each other." If you don't give kids a reason why, they may make it up that the divorce is because of them. Do not get into too much detail or blame, however. Do not say, "Your father is a liar and has been having an affair." Being negative on either parent won't help the kids. The truth will come out in time, so for now, take the high road. Do give some reason that is about both of you. Taking responsibility for the fact that the problem lies with you and your spouse makes it clear that it has nothing to do with the kids.
Next: Reassure the kids...