New Year, New News: Telling Your Children About Your Divorce

A new year, for many people, is also often synonymous with a fresh start. Whether that means logging longer hours in the gym, commencing a new fitness routine or diet, the new year is almost like a cleansing—out with the old, and in with the new. For those considering a divorce, or, even for some people who have already started a divorce, part of the divorce process is discussing with your children about this major life change.

This may be a difficult proposition for many people, as admitting that you’re getting a divorce can be akin to an admission that you could not make the marriage work, or made a mistake. However, before you begin to get into the details of the divorce process itself, the first step is telling your children that you and their father/mother are getting a divorce. The following list are some ideas to consider before you tell your children about the divorce:

Do it together. While a divorce seeks to terminate the marital relationship, it does not end the family you’ve created; a divorce just tweaks it a bit. Consider speaking to your children with their father or mother, and creating a united front for the children. The key is to focus on the end of the marriage; not the end of the family.  Let the children know that regardless of what happens, they will always have their parents, and a family, notwithstanding the change in marital status.

Brace yourself for the questions. When you tell your children about the divorce, be ready to answer some difficult questions. Your children will likely want to know why you’re getting a divorce, a question that you may not have even been able to answer to yourself. Regardless, be ready to have a child-friendly answer to your child’s inquiry. If you choose to tell your children about the divorce without the other parent, consider first speaking to the other parent so your answers are similar and consistent. A possible inconsistency in answers may cause unnecessary tension and angst for the children.

Say it with the therapist. If you and the other parent have already been in marital therapy or counseling together, or even individual therapy, consider speaking to your therapist to learn the most child-friendly, productive way to tell the children. If your children are in counseling, perhaps speak to their therapist privately to determine the best way to tell the children about this new event. The more due diligence you do, the better it will be for the children.

It will hurt, and that’s ok: Let’s face it.  Divorce is a tough and challenging life event for most people. It even pulls on the heartstrings of the toughest divorce lawyers due to the personal, intimate nature of the proceeding, and the raw emotions divorce lawyers witness almost daily. Embrace the fact that you may cry, that your voice may quiver when you tell your children. But that’s ok. The honest transparency may initially be difficult for you and your children, but, depending on the child, this candidness and lack of an emotional shield, may be fitting for your children, depending on their age and level of maturity.

This blog post only provides a rough guideline approach to the method and manner in which you may inform your children about your divorce. As always, consider speaking to a professional therapist, pediatrician, or your family attorney about the best method that will fit you and your family before you divulge this important and life changing admission to your children.