So you are getting a divorce?
If you have children, you are probably worried about how to tell them about your divorce, and when.
When do we tell the kids?
There really is no right time.
But letting it drag on can make things worse.
Even young children can sense what is happening around them and if you are ‘faking it’, then they will pick up on it.
Older children may feel betrayed if you are not up front and honest with them about your divorce.
Delaying telling your children about divorce can lead to more problems than telling them earlier.
What do we tell our kids about our divorce?
The most important things you can tell your children about your divorce are:
You both still love them.
They are not the reason you are getting a divorce. It is not their fault.
They will always have a Mum and a Dad.
They will never be asked to pick sides. They don’t have to choose one parent. They can love you both.
What if our children ask questions about our divorce?
Children are naturally curious.
When a big change is happening in their lives, they are likely to ask questions about it.
Young children can be helped with simple story-based resources. The Family Court has some great resources. Try to keep it simple. You might be tempted to try to explain but sometimes all they need to know at a young age, is that they will be okay.
Older, teenage children can be more difficult as they are less inclined to accept simple answers.
They may challenge you with questions about the divorce. They might even pry to find someone to blame – so that it makes sense to them.
Resist the urge to share details with them.
Even if you feel personally wronged or betrayed by your spouse, your child is not the appropriate person to help you work through your grief.
It’s important to maintain the boundaries of child and parent and avoid them taking the weight of the world on their shoulders and feeling like they have to save one parent.
Your children, whatever their age, need to feel safe and secure with you and allowed to remain children for as long as possible. Sharing with them can lead to them becoming your emotional support and shortening their childhood.
What's the best way to break the news?
There are many ways to break the news to your kids about your divorce, but if you can agree on how and when, that is a really good start.
Many couples work with a family mediator and make an agreement about how the children will be told. Our family law mediators can work with you to help you work out what will be best for your children.
Share background reading such as how to talk to children about divorce and Age-by-Age guide to talking to kids about divorce so that you both have an understanding of what might be the best way to approach the subject.
Be aware that jumping the gun and telling the kids without the other parent knowing, sets the tone for your divorce and might create issues you need to work through to get an agreement on custody or property settlement.
How do we make sure our kids aren't hurt by our divorce?
This is the most important question to ask, and shows that you have your priorities straight.
The good news is that children are not harmed by divorce. The old days of ‘staying together for the sake of the kids’ have been well and truly proven wrong.
Kids do well if they have parents who love them, care for them and don’t fight.
Children living in a happy with both parents or two happy homes each with one parent, are often better off than children living in a house where parents argue.
The possibility of harm to children from divorce can be minimised.
Key to this is choosing a family law process that minimises conflict like Mediation or Collaborative Law.
Talk to us about our fixed fee family mediation packages.