From the time that their children are born, parents communicate to and with their children. We croon to infants to help them get to sleep or to soothe them, we enunciate our words to help model speech, we teach them about the world around them, modulating our delivery based on their age and stage of development. Some of us do this naturally while others learn by watching our partners or imitating other parents, but when it comes to talking to children about divorce, we tend to freeze up, worried that we’re going to get it wrong.

The first thing you need to do as you get ready for this conversation is to relax. Your children love you and the single most important message that you need to convey is that both of you will continue to love them and be there for them. That is what children most want to hear.

Of course, that is not to say that other aspects of the conversation don’t need to be well-thought-out. You should both be together when delivering the news, and no matter how angry or hurt one or both of you may be, you need to deliver the message as your children’s parents rather than as combatants. Do not indulge in blame or share too many details about what happened in your relationship. Your children want to hear about how things will affect them, and that should be the aim of your conversation.

To make sure that you don’t stray into information that goes beyond this goal, make a plan. Agree on what you are and are not going to say, keeping your message age-appropriate and timing its delivery to when you can deliver it together and your kids have time to process what they’ve heard. It’s important that you do not approach the issue until you have the answers that your kids need about where they are going to be and how you are each going to engage with them, and preferably the conversation should happen long enough before you separate that the kids have time to acclimate to the idea and ask questions. As time goes by they will have a lot of them…. Make sure that you keep modulating your answer based on their age and emotional maturity, concentrating on them and their needs rather than on your own.

Going through a divorce is an emotional challenge, and that is especially true when children are involved. For help navigating the process, contact our compassionate attorneys to set up a time to chat.

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