Not all marriages last. When you and your spouse decide to call it quits, it can be a tumultuous time for both of you. One of the most difficult aspects of an impending divorce is telling your children that your marriage is over. The following are some tips for making this highly unpleasant conversation go as smoothly as possible.
1) Consider the time and place of the conversation. Finding out that their parents are getting divorced will likely be a conversation a child will never forget. Make sure to choose a location where the child will be comfortable. Additionally, choose a time when the conversation will not be cut short or interrupted. Having the conversation on a weekend is better than telling the child in the morning before school.
2) It is important that you and your spouse deliver the news together. That way, you will both be there to comfort and reassure them, as well as making it clear that the children are not the cause of the divorce. When you and your spouse break the news together, it conveys to the child that the two of you are devoted to raising the children in a cooperative and amicable manner. This conversation is not the time to argue or bicker. Be mature. Emotional displays may cause the children to feel the need to take sides.
3) Think about exactly what you intend to say ahead of time. Discuss your plan with your spouse to make sure the two of you are on the same page. Get to the point quickly in the conversation. There is no need to drag things out. You might begin with something like, “You have probably noticed that your mother and I have been arguing a lot lately.” It is also important to reiterate things like how both parents' love for the children will not change, the divorce is not the children's fault, and that you will both continue to be parents even though you will no longer live together.
4) Finally, try to work with your spouse to develop a plan for living arrangements and visitation issues prior to the conversation with the children. The mere thought of the divorce will create enough uncertainty in their lives. Such uncertainty will be compounded by trying to work out these issues on the fly. Plus, you don't want the children to feel that they have to choose between the parents. Naturally the conversation will be smoother if you already have answers to questions like “Will I have to move?,” “Will I have to change schools?,” and “When will I get to see Dad/Mom?”
Above all, try to put your personal emotions and potential anger aside, at least during this first conversation. The news you will be delivering to the children may very well devastate them. This will be a time when your children will truly need the love, comfort, and reassurances from both parents.
If you are considering a divorce and your are in need of knowledgeable legal guidance and skilled, compassionate advocacy, please do not hesitate to contact the NC Adoption Law Center: A Family Law Firm today.