“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.” – Jennifer Weiner
Deciding how to tell your kids you’re divorcing is rough — no doubt about it. While some parents prefer to keep their kids in the dark, leaving them completely unaware of what happened in the marriage in an attempt to protect them, others opt for full transparency.
No matter how little or how much you decide to reveal to your kids about why you’re divorcing, there are three key things that they should know:
1. “[Other parent] is not a bad person/bad name.” Refrain from name-calling. Your kids are half your ex and half you. If you call your ex a bad name, they’ll hear that they’re the bad name since they are half of him or her.
2. “We both love you very much and will always be here for you.” Even if your co-parent doesn’t show it and your kids are left wondering whether he or she loves them, fall back on the tried-but-true explanation of, “He/she just has trouble showing it sometimes.”
3. “This is not your fault.” Depending on the ages of your kids, they might have a tendency to blame themselves, so repeat this phrase over and over until they get it. Words aren’t enough, though; you’ll have to live it, too. For example, if you tell your kids, “If only your dad had cooked dinner once in awhile,” your kids may hear, “It’s my fault I needed to eat. If I hadn’t, maybe Mom and Dad wouldn’t be divorcing.”
Once you’ve told your kids you’re divorcing, expect several reactions ranging from self-centeredness (“How does this affect me now?”) to fearful (“Will I have to switch soccer schools?”) to angry (“I hate you! You ruined my life!”).
When all is said and done, take your cue from your children. Give them the space they need for the news to sink in. Bake cookies together, play outside, run in the rain, hug often and snuggle on the sofa. Take extra time to show them that they’re wonderful kids capable of being happy. The best lesson you can teach them after a divorce is that their happiness is not dependent on whether their parents are married.
A professional California family law attorney at the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan can give you the insight you need regarding your family matters. Call 888-228-1098 for a confidential consultation.