How do we tell the children we are getting divorced?
Parents who have made the decision to separate or divorce are often very concerned about the best way to talk to their children about the decision. This is something that is often discussed when mediation is started early in the separation process. In mediation parents can agree a plan, content and approach for how to talk to their children both initially and as time goes on.
Some pointers often discussed with parents include:-
- Planning how, when and what will be said and what they will do afterwards. Will they tell the children at the same time? Will they tell them together?
- Don’t presume it will just be one conversation but think about keeping the first conversation short so the children have time to absorb what has been said.
- Be aware the children will be watching reactions and body language and will take direction for this to how they will manage.
- Asking the children if they would like to speak with anyone – a family member, grandparent
- Consider child inclusive mediation so that the children have a voice in the process
- Reminding the children that their parents love them and nothing will change that (and repeat that reassurance regularly).
- Make it clear to the children that they will not be asked to take sides and that they are allowed to love both parents.
- Explain that the adults are sorting out the details of how family life is going to look and will share this when they know.
- Not sharing details of the divorce or financial issues with the children.
- Emphasising this is not their fault, but that the adults’ feelings for each other have changed or there is a problem they cannot work out.
- Letting the children know it is ok to feel sad and show their emotions, but that it will feel better and it is ok to talk to you about it.
Resolution’s Parenting After Parting committee have prepared a free PDF download with more information about this and other practical issues for parents who are separating, which can be found here Parenting-through-separation-guide.pdf (resolution.org.uk) which is a great tool for parents.
By Claire Colbert – FMA Member