January is Child Centered Divorce Awareness Month, so it is the ideal time to discuss how to tell your kids that you are getting a divorce. This is always a difficult thing to do but we have some recommendations to help you through this.
Both Parents Should Meet Together with the Children
Unless there are issues of domestic violence or child abuse, both parents should meet together with the children to tell them about the divorce. Children of all ages should be included in this meeting. That way, everyone is hearing the same thing at the same time.
It is up to the parents to decide how much information they are going to give their children, but it is recommended that parents do not place blame on one parent. Children should not be placed in the middle of the parents’ disagreements. Also, children should never be asked to pass messages back and forth between the parents.
Working together to provide the children the information they need, and keeping a united front avoid later comments from the children such as, “But mom says…” or “But dad said…”
Common Reactions and Questions Children Have About the Divorce
Children react in different and sometimes unpredictable ways. Some will sulk, some will burst into tears. Others may scream and leave the room. Parents need to expect the unexpected and then be ready to answer questions when the children are ready to ask them.
Children are concerned about what will happen to them. Some common questions are:
- Will I still go to the same school?
- Will we have to move?
- What will happen at the holidays?
- Which parent will I be living with?
- What if one parent is planning on moving out of the area? What will that mean?
- Will I still get to take piano lessons, play after-school sports, be involved in drama, ballet, art classes?
These questions cannot all be answered in just one conversation. Parents will need to meet again with the children, all while they need to take care of their own emotional well-being.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
In the Collaborative Divorce process, there are divorce coaches, child specialists, and other experts who guide the divorcing parents so they can amicably resolve their disputes. Divorce coaches work with the parents and their children as they plan for the future. Keeping the best interests of the children in mind, the Divorce coaches help the parents come up with a parenting plan. The goal is for the children to know that both parents still love them and that both parents will always be available to them.