As a parent, you understand how the choices you make can impact your kids for years to come. That is why you give careful consideration to all of the decisions you make that could affect them in any way, especially your divorce. If you have made the choice to move forward with this process, you may wonder how this could affect your kids and what you can do to ensure that they have the best possible future. This starts with the conversation you will have with them explaining your divorce.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to telling your kids about divorce. They will need their parents during this difficult time, and no one knows your children like you do. You can have this conversation with them in a way that is age appropriate, compassionate and specific to their individual levels of understanding. It will be helpful to prepare well to have this talk.
Base your approach on age
One of the most important factors to keep in mind as you prepare to have this conversation is the ages of your children. You should gauge the information you provide your kids based on their maturity and ability to process difficult emotions. Regardless of the ages of the kids, it is normal for them to have emotional responses and strong feelings about what they are experiencing. Consider the following guides:
- For infants and toddlers — They will have little comprehension of what is going on. It is best to stick to the very basics and then provide emotional support.
- For elementary-age kids — They have more comprehension but are likely to view things in black and white. It is best to avoid blame, instead focusing on providing stable routines for kids.
- Middle school and high school kids — At this age, they will understand what is happening. It is best to provide clarity, stability and assurance about what the divorce will mean for their daily lives.
Before you have this talk, you and the other parent will want to have a plan regarding what information you will provide. For kids, it is critical to ensure stability and as much continuity of lifestyle as possible. As you tell your kids about your divorce, you may want to provide them with details regarding their schedules, how custody will work and other details that will impact their daily lives.