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Top Tips For Talking to Your Children About Divorce

Divorce is a life-changing experience not only for the spouses but for children as well. If you and your spouse aren’t currently speaking, consider using a divorce mediator to discuss how to talk to your children about your separation and divorce.

Are you and your spouse planning a divorce but haven’t told your children yet? Read on to learn the top tips on how to communicate your divorce to them. 

Take the Time To Plan 

Circumstances are different for every divorce. For example, if both parties fail to communicate respectfully and calmly, consider consulting with a divorce mediator. A divorce mediator can help plan the details of talking to your children about your divorce. In addition, taking the time to plan what you’re going to say will allow each parent to be on the same page. If your message is similar, it will encourage your children to respond more calmly. 

Tell Your Children Together If Possible

Have a joint conversation with your children to explain what your divorce means if it is possible without the children witnessing conflict. While you don’t need to go into any details, it’s important to share what this means for your family. In addition, since the news is coming from both parents, remember to refrain from blaming each other. Regardless if one spouse is at fault, this is not your children’s burden to be in the middle of the conflict. Your children will likely have questions, and depending on their age, they may react differently. In addition, if you decide to share the news with your children right away before working out the details, it’s ok if you don’t have all of the answers. However, reassure them that you’ll share any details once you both have everything sorted out. Similarly, reassurance will help your children’s reactions through all of this. Remember to remind them of how much their parents love the and that they are not responsible for the breakdown of the relationship.

Share Any Changes

While you do not need to share the exact details regarding why you’re getting a divorce, prioritize communicating any changes with your children. For example, if you have decided that one parent is moving out of the family home, share this expected change with your children. Developing a parenting plan is a great way to help outline new living arrangements and schedules. You can get help with creating a parenting agreement from a divorce mediator. A parenting plan can help each parent commit to shared parenting philosophies including mutual decision-making authority. To learn more about the details of a parenting plan, read our blog on “5 Things To Include in Your Parenting Agreement”

Be Prepared to Handle Reactions

Your children may likely react with anger, sadness or confusion. This outcome depends on their age and maturity. For example, a 5-year-old is not going to react the same as a 15-year-old. However, telling your children together and being transparent about any changes will make a difference in their reactions. Be mindful of your children’s response to the news. Use positive language and encourage them to share how they’re feeling. In addition, using phrases such as “We understand how you’re feeling” will help make them feel heard and validate their feelings. 

To conclude, when speaking with your children about your divorce, remember to plan what you’re going to say. In addition, prioritize sharing this news together and explain any anticipated changes. Lastly, be prepared for their reactions. Try your best to put your differences aside and focus on helping your children transition during this time. 

Get help planning how to tell your children by using a divorce mediator. Kelly D. Jordan is a Toronto-based family lawyer who can help you navigate this change and provide guidance on developing a parenting plan.