One of the most difficult steps for parents when they decide to separate or divorce is telling their children. Parents often put off this emotional discussion because they do not know how to break the news to their family. It is important, however, to be honest with your children once the decision has been made. How you deal with this crucial step will have a great impact on how your children adapt to this change in their lives.
Although tensions may be running high, couples should try to come to an agreement on what and how they will inform the children. Carefully plan the discussion, such as how to approach the children and how to respond to their questions, as this will go a long way to helping your family cope with the news. Remember, your children look to you for guidance: their reaction will be affected by how you tell them the news.
If there has been open hostility between you and your partner in the household, the news of your decision to end your relationship may not be totally unexpected – particularly for older or teenage children. It will be more shocking for families when couples have kept their troubles private. Whatever the situation – even when couples constantly argue in front of the family – discovering that their parents' have decided to separate or divorce is certainly upsetting and traumatic for children.
- Explaining why parents separate or divorce
- Who should tell the children and where
- What you should say
- What you should not say
- Responding to children’s questions
- Keeping the lines of communication open
- Talking to teachers, coaches, and extended family