If you and your spouse decide to end the marriage, many important factors come to the forefront for resolution. Some important topics will take priority later in the divorce process such as dividing assets and resolving financial obligations, but there are other elements that need immediate attention when first deciding to divorce.
How are the two of you going to tell your children about the divorce? Are you prepared to answer their questions and remain available for future concerns? What will your co-parenting dynamic look like before a formal custody arrangement?
It’s important to prepare for sharing this news with the children and to have some of the big questions answered ahead of time. To do so effectively, consider some important tips before beginning this conversation.
Parents can prepare together
When it’s safe and possible to do so, both parents should prepare for and have this conversation together with the children. Although the marriage is ending, your relationship as co-parents is likely to continue as more couples enter shared custody arrangements as the new norm.
Plan for this conversation together and present a united front as you discuss a divorce with the children. The less conflict children experience, the more stable and protected they will feel. When you bring up the divorce, try to avoid any talk of opposing sides or fault. You are still co-parents and exacerbating tensions in front of children will only make them feel more frazzled by the news.
Communicate your message
The only thing you can control in a conversation is yourself. No parent can completely plan for and predict their child’s response to major news. However, you can prepare for what you will say and how you will say it in this conversation.
What are the main takeaways you want them to remember? This conversation may stick with them for a long time, so it’s important that you and your soon to be ex have a plan that includes talking points going into this talk.
Get the main points across and have answers prepared for important questions. How will this affect their everyday life? What is their living situation? When will they see each parent? You will hash out a complete parenting schedule and custody arrangement later on, but you can provide information for the immediate future at this time.
Respect their response
No two people react identically to the same information. Each child will react in their own unique way when hearing the news of a divorce and it’s important that parents respect their response. Listen to their concerns and try to provide support and clarity when possible.
The divorce and custody process can bring a number of challenged to parents. It’s not an insurmountable task, though preparation is an important element. If possible, take the time to prepare for sharing the news of a divorce with the children.