Telling your children that you and your spouse intend to divorce is one of the most difficult things that you may ever do as a parent. However, like most difficult things in life, it is better to do it as soon as possible. Putting it off does not make the conversation easier, and it makes it more likely that the children may hear it from another source.
Your approach to the conversation may vary based on the number of children you have and the developmental levels they have reached. However, there are some things that it is important for all children to hear about their parents’ divorce.
They are not responsible
Regardless of age, children tend to assume fault or responsibility for their parents’ divorce. Even if it is not on a conscious level, they often believe that they did something wrong to cause the divorce or that they can do something different to fix it.
Therefore, you should make explicitly clear to your children that the divorce is the responsibility of you and your spouse. You and your spouse have adult problems, and you made the adult decision to divorce after determining that it was the only solution. It is not the children’s fault, they bear no responsibility for trying to fix the relationship. You can reinforce these ideas by talking to your children together and presenting a united front.
They are safe no matter what
Children may ask questions about how the divorce will affect them. Even if they do not ask explicitly, they may wonder. You should explain clearly that even though the divorce will mean many changes, both parents still love them, and they will still have a safe place to live. In fact, they will have two different homes, each with a parent who loves them just as much as before.
If you have children of multiple ages, these two points should be sufficient to satisfy the most pressing questions and concerns that they are likely to have. If you have children who are a little older than the others and want more details about the divorce, you can take them aside for a separate conversation.