Sharing with children the news of a parental divorce may be one of the hardest things moms and dads must do. While these conversations are never easy, there are some ways parents can work together to create the best possible outcomes for their children.
Discussions about a divorce should factor in the number and ages of the children as well as the developmental stages and ability for each child to understand what a divorce really means.
The first conversation
Talking with kids about a parental divorce should not be a one-time thing, yet there must be an initial conversation that breaks the news. Psychology Today recommends both parents meet with all of the children together in a family meeting. This approach allows moms and dads to provide a united front to their children and reinforce the concept that the parents remain committed to the kids even when not married to each other.
This family meeting should highlight the immediate tactical things kids may ask about such as where each parent will live and where the kids will live.
After everyone knows about the divorce, parents should expect to have ongoing discussions with their children. Many of these will be individual conversations and allow parents to talk to each child in more depth and in an age-appropriate way.
Today’s Parent explains that young kids need a lot of repetition and a focus on the things that impact their immediate world. Older children should be encouraged to verbalize their feelings, fears and concerns even when they appear to resist parental involvement.