If you and your spouse have come to the decision that you’re going to divorce and you have children, the conversation regarding how to tell them was likely brought up. It’s important to spend some time planning with a divorce lawyer on how to speak to your children about divorce to help mitigate any feelings of blame that they might develop.

If you and your spouse aren’t currently speaking to each other or are unable to speak calmly and rationally, you can consider using a mediator or counsellor to help plan the details.

Have a Joint Conversation With Your Children

It’s important to try to have a conversation with your children together as their parents. This will reassure them that in spite of divorcing and not living together, you’re still their parents and nothing about that will ever change.

During this conversation, you can also explain why you’re getting a divorce. While it’s not necessary to share the exact details, and how you approach this will depend on how old your children are, it’s imperative to provide your children with the “why” so that they can better understand and internalize this change. When having this conversation, remaining calm will help shape your children’s reactions and decrease feelings of anxiety regarding the anticipation of this change. Explanations such as “We won’t be married anymore but we will still be your parents” or “We love you very much but we’ve decided it’s best if your parents just stay friends” are sensitive ways to explain what’s happening.

No matter how mature your children might seem, this is an adult situation that they won’t fully understand. As a result, you do not need to share specific details and it’s encouraged to try your best to stay neutral and think of your children’s feelings throughout this process.

Understanding Your Children’s Reactions

Divorce is an emotional process and your children will react according to how they feel. Often, these can be intense, confusing emotions. Recognizing and accepting how your children react is going to help them during this process. Using phrases such as “We understand” and “Thank you for sharing your feelings” will help reassure your children that both of their parents are accepting of their reaction and are here to help navigate their feelings with them during this time.

If your children are in school, some parents going through divorce choose to let their children’s teachers know. This allows their teachers to pay attention to any behaviour changes when parents are not around. Your child’s school might also have a school therapist or counsellor that your children could talk to. Encouraging them to talk about their feelings with you but letting them know they can also talk to other adults, might help them become more willing to open up.

Explain Any Changes

Depending on the ages of your children, they’ve most likely developed some routines and it’s important to consider how a divorce is going to impact their routines and lives. Consider addressing any changes such as which parent is moving out, when they can expect this to happen, how often they can expect to see both of their parents. If your children have any questions, answer with honesty and if you don’t have the answers yet, let them know that too.

If the decision to divorce is recent and nothing has been made official yet, having a divorce lawyer to help with the legal aspects of child custody, child support and parenting will help you spend more time focusing on your children and yourself during this time. A divorce lawyer can inform you about mediation options and ensure that your rights and your children’s rights are protected.

If you’re looking for a divorce attorney that you can trust and feel comfortable with, contact the law office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer for help with navigating divorce matters. We are here to support you through mediation, litigation, parenting arrangements, child support, and division of property.