Making the decision to divorce is not easy, especially when there are children involved. One area where many parents struggle is in that initial “sit down” with the children to let them know exactly what is going on. If that does not go well, more parenting mistakes occur in the future simply trying to “make up” with them for getting a divorce. We have put together some tips on how to better deal with this initial conversation and how to move forward in a positive way.
· Be on the Same Page – it is very important that even though your partner and you are divorcing, you very much see eye-to-eye on how to handle discussing the issue of divorce with the children. Sit down together and come up with a game plan as to which parent will cover what topics as well as possible questions and emotional challenges that are possible in this first conversation.
· Talk to Them Together – put your marriage differences aside and speak to the children as their mother and father, together. This will show them that even though you may no longer be husband and wife, you are still working as a united family where they are concerned.
· Avoid the Blame Game – stress the fact that this is how “we” feel and avoid pointing fingers or making stands as an individual. Getting into an argument in front of the children will not serve any purpose other than to make a difficult time already more challenging for the children. You need to show a united front in this regard and continue to act as a parenting team, not a divorcing couple.
· Be Honest – the kids need to know what is going on. However, there is really no need to go into exact details, especially if something such as infidelity is the cause of the divorce. General and sensible explanations will suffice here.
· Discuss Changes – there will be some drastic changes in the lives of everyone, so discuss them out in the open. For instance, discuss what parent will be leaving the home and how and when the children will be able to see that parent.
· Expect a Reaction – in all likelihood, the news will not go over very well with the children. You need to be ready to enforce the fact that this is not about them and that your love for them has not changed. You may also have to deal with some behavior and emotional issues, so have a plan in place concerning parenting to ensure consistency regardless of where the children are (meaning dad should not be the soft guy with mom playing disciplinarian when they are at home, or vice versa).
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