Divorce is, and always will be a highly sensitive and complex issue. It can seem like there’s never a good time to tell your kids. But it can become even more complicated if your children find out about it before you and your soon-to-be ex sit them down to explain.
Kids typically feel a mixture of sadness, fear, anger and confusion when parents end a marriage. Those feelings can be even more tumultuous if they get the news from someone else. However, there are many steps you can take to help ease their transition.
Be honest and don’t deflect
Open communication is vital during this challenging time. Acknowledge what they heard is true, but don’t go into unnecessary details about why the divorce is happening. Encourage them to ask questions and share their feelings. The most essential message from you is letting them know they are not to blame and that both of you love them.
Reinforce consistency and stability
Once they know, children often internalize their feelings. Any change to their routine will be challenging going forward. With that being the case, get on the same page with your co-parent and commit to maintaining familiar routines and surroundings as much as possible under the circumstances.
If you or the other parent have moved out or will move out soon, develop a parenting plan that helps them feel safe and secure. If your children will move between two households, ensure that uniform rules are in place and are enforced equally.
Be there for them emotionally
Being confronted by your children before you’re ready to tell them can add to the pain you already feel. But it’s crucial to validate your kids’ concerns by encouraging them to express their feelings. Lean on your own support system during this time, such as close family members or friends. It may also benefit your children to involve a therapist or counselor to help them cope. Prioritizing honest communication, love and support during this time can help ease the transition for everyone.