Going through a divorce is rough for the two people who are separating, but it’s also a significant strain on the children who are watching their parent’s relationship fall apart. Talking to your kids about divorce is hard, but there are some rules on how to handle it that can make this problematic process less of a burden for you and your children.
If your children are too young to understand what is going on its imperative that you explain to them that both parents still love them. They will be upset that one of their parents will be leaving them and trying to understand why that’s happening will be confusing and upsetting to the child. Avoiding fights with your spouse in front of the child is vital to maintain their happiness and prevent them from becoming upset or distressed over what is happening. Maintaining a positive attitude with your child during the process will comfort them and allow you to be able to keep them happy. When the divorce is finally completed you’ll likely have to explain why you or your spouse won’t be around them as much anymore. This will be a hard thing for the child to deal with but make it clear that when they are with your ex-spouse, you want the two of them to be happy and not to worry about you. Explaining why you’re not still married may be hard but being open and honest about relationships is the best way to help your child understand what is happening.
If your child is a pre-teen or teenager and knows precisely what is happening, it’s best to be honest and upfront with them about everything. They might have even been the one to have brought up the problem that caused the divorce. They might have discovered an addiction your spouse was hiding or intercepted a message that showed they were unfaithful. Treat your older children as adults and let them know it’s not their fault this is happening and hope they can understand why the two of you are divorcing and if possible help the younger kids deal with it. Older siblings can become more protective and comforting to younger siblings during trying times such as this. Having them help out and shoulder some of the burden can take a lot of stress off of you. Make sure they are up to the task and work hard to maintain constant communication between yourself and them, so they know you’re not just dumping your problems on them and that you’re merely asking for a bit of help in a tough time.
Kids are smarter than you think and they’ll find their way to understanding exactly what is going on. They might beg for you to stay together and be upset about the marriage failing but they’ll realize at some point that separation is best for you and your spouse. If the relationship is abusive, they’ll likely be grateful to be able to escape it and get a fresh start on life. Divorce is hard, don’t bottle up your feelings and hide the truth from your kids.