One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce for parents is the impact it has on their children. Sitting down with your kids to let them know that you have decided to separate is extremely difficult emotionally for all involved. If you are able to communicate clearly and plan well, you can minimize the pain that your children will feel. Of course, there is no way to take all of the pain away – divorce is hard. Below are some tips for helping your kids through a divorce in a healthy way.
1. Think about the timing of your message: Planning is so important when it comes to delivering the news about your divorce to your kids. Make sure that both you and your spouse are ready, put the phones down and focus on the communication. You may want to talk to your spouse ahead of time about the messages you want to provide so that you are on the same page.
2. Deliver the news together if possible: It is important to show your children that you and your spouse can still work together, so delivering the message together is important. This communicates that you and your ex are still on the same team when it comes to them.
3. Be clear that no one is at fault for the divorce, especially not them: It is impossible to predict how your children will react to the news but make sure to communicate that no one is to blame for this decision, especially not them.
4. Ask your children how they are feeling periodically: Communication is one of the most important aspects of helping your children through divorce. Ask them how they are feeling and then be ready to listen.
5. Do not say negative things about your ex in front of your kids: Make an agreement with your ex not to say negative things about each other to your children.
6. Put support in place before you talk to your kids: Consider letting family, teachers and other sources of support know about your plans so that they are ready to support your children as well.
7. Make scheduling and consistency your priority: Your children’s schedule (bedtime, mealtimes, etc.) should stay as close to normal as possible. This may be inconvenient at times but is important.
8. Let the kids make some choices that make sense: If you are moving, allow your kids to choose colors for their room or let them pick where you get takeout. Giving them the power to make decisions can make them feel confident and valued.
AMS Mediation helps families navigate the divorce process. For more information about our divorce mediation or parenting support services, call us at 952-252-1492.