How To Talk To Your Kids About Your Divorce

How To Talk To Your Kids About Your Divorce [EXPERT]

When in doubt, try these eight expert tips.

5. Think long-term. Do you want to be able to sit together at your daughter's graduation? Dance together at your son's wedding? If so, know that the way you handle things now will have a big impact on your future relationship with each other, and if you have kids, you will have a future relationship. It is up to you to decide if you want to be able to share in the major events of your children's lives without anger, tension, and hurt  If you want your kids to enjoy those moments without worrying about having both parents in the same room together, find ways to work together civilly now. The payoff down the line is worth it. —Erika Myers

6. Remember, language matters. The way you talk about your divorce will impact how you, your children, and everyone else in your life responds. Phrases like "broken home," "split family" and even "ex-wife/husband" come laden with negative connotations and focus on loss.  Instead, refer to your ex as the mother or father of your children. This recognizes and respects the ongoing connection your former partner has with your children. —Erika Myers

7. Don't lie or deceive. Kids can smell deception from a mile away, particularly when it involves their parents. They can handle unpleasant truth, even truth that hurts, particularly when it's dispensed with care and compassion; in time, "truth pain" will heal. "Deception pain" won't. —Stephen Swecker

8. Honor family. Kids need to know that the family, although dramatically changed, remains "there" for them. This can seem paradoxical; after all, the family as they've known it is taking a huge hit from the parents themselves. Divorce, however, need not include expressions of disrespect for the "other" parent or behaviors that dishonor that parent's role in the kids' lives. Long after the trauma of divorce has ended, kids will benefit from parents who, through it all, behave like responsible, mature members of the kids' family, i.e., the family their parents created. —Stephen Swecker