It is no secret that deciding to file for a divorce can leave couples emotionally devastated, even for the spouse who makes the final decision to move on. Nevertheless, divorce can be particularly difficult on children, who often find themselves in situations that they simply are not equipped to understand. Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to discuss divorce with children to ensure that they are able to move on as successfully as possible.
First, it is important for both parents to discuss their decision to divorce with each other before they break the news to their children. Specifically, parents should talk about what they are and are not going to say to their children about their decision. No matter what, parents should recognize that this is not an opportunity to express anger or lay blame, but rather to be as calm and civilized as possible.
Second, it is important for both parents to be present when presenting the decision to divorce to their children. This ensures that the children receive a consistent message from both parents about the decision and do not see one parent as the cause of the split.
Third, although it is not necessary to go into details about the reasons for your decision, parents should offer their children some explanation as to why they have decided to move on. Providing general reasons for the divorce can help children understand the reasons for the divorce and to cope with your decision emotionally.
Fourth, parents should provide their children with an understanding of what to expect next. With which parent are the children going to live? Are they going to have to switch schools? Oftentimes, clear answers about these sorts of practical concerns can go a long way to alleviating children's initial fears about the divorce process.
Finally, more than anything else, parents should reassure their children that their decision to get divorced does not affect their love for them. Parents should be understanding about the ways in which their children respond and react to the news and should do their best to answer whatever questions may arise. As difficult as the decision to divorce is on you and your spouse, it can be harder on your children and they may require extra attention and reassurance.
If you are currently considering whether to file for divorce, consult with a divorce attorney about your options and what to expect from the process.