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3 questions to ask yourself before you tell your kids about your divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Divorce

Most children eventually learn about their parents’ divorce and often it is not from their own parents. This can be very difficult for many children, leaving them feeling as if their parents are not honest and are keeping secrets. But, before you have the talk with your children about your divorce, you may need to consider asking yourself the following questions:

1. What do you want your children to know about your divorce?

Divorce is a complicated matter. You may not want to reveal everything about the divorce to your children, now or even in the future.  For example, if the divorce was caused by infidelity, it may be a subject that is better addressed, if at all, later in life when your children are adults. 

However, if you know a little about what will happen after the divorce, you could talk about it to your children to help reassure them by giving information they need to better process the changes ahead. For example, you may want to tell them whether or not the family will have to move, whether it is likely they will change schools, or reassuring them about their ability to spend ample time with both parents. 

This would also be an opportunity to remind your children that you still love and support them. When children hear their parents are getting divorced, they can frequently conclude that they were the cause. It is important to make sure they know that they were not the cause of problems between their parents. 

2. How should you have this talk?

As you think about what to say to your children, it can also help to think about how you should talk to them. Many parents set aside a time when the whole family can talk. Children often benefit more when both their parents tell them the news of the divorce together. This gives them a sense that both parents will continue to be present and available to them. Furthermore, when both parents share the information together, it can help prevent one parent from being blamed for the divorce which can lead to children feeling like they need to take sides. 

3. Is it too soon to talk about the divorce?

If the separation between you and your spouse is still new and you are still living in the same home, you may want to consider waiting to tell the children in order to give you and your spouse time to process the change yourselves and sort out some details before unnecessarily involving the children. In Virginia and in many other jurisdictions, spouses need to be separated, often for a full year before they can file for divorce. The purpose of this delay is to help facilitate reconciliation. It is important to consider the timing of any discussion with your children. 

Discussing divorce with children is difficult and tricky. All parents should obtain legal advice before having such a discussion and should also consider obtaining advice from a mental health professional who has experience working with families going through divorce or significant conflict.

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