When you and your spouse decide to divorce, one of the first things you should do is to tell your children. Though this is a difficult conversation, it is better that your children hear it from you rather than someone outside the family.
At the same time, you should not talk about divorce with your children without working with your spouse to figure out what you are going to say beforehand. The idea is to comfort and reassure your children rather than fueling their fears or encouraging false hope.
State explicitly that they are not at fault
Children of different ages react to the news of their parents’ divorce in various ways. Nevertheless, no matter the maturity level, children tend to take on guilt feelings about the split. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that you have to make it clear to your children that they are not to blame. In fact, you should avoid any sort of blaming narrative.
Tell them what they need to know
According to Psychology Today, children deserve an explanation of why their lives are about to change so significantly. However, they do not need to know all the messy details. Explain to them that despite your attempts to work things out with your spouse, you can no longer live together. Invite children’s questions and answer them as honestly as possible but remember that it is completely appropriate to withhold information that you feel would not be healthy for them to know.
Remember that this conversation is for your children’s benefit. It may help if you put yourself in their shoes and consider what would be most helpful for them to hear.