When getting a divorce, one of the big questions you have to negotiate is, “When to go public with my divorce?” Going public with your divorce means telling everyone including your parents, siblings, other close family, friends, and especially your children. How can you help your children understand what’s happening while causing them as little pain as possible?
In this week’s episode of Divorce & Other Things You Can Handle, I am so glad to be joined by Rosalind Sedacca, CDC. Rosalind is a Divorce and Co-Parenting Coach, recognized as the voice of Child-Centered DIvorce. She is also the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, which provides valuable resources for parents who are facing, moving through or transitioning after a divorce.
In Today’s Podcast Episode
How To Tell Your Children You’re Getting A Divorce
When should you be telling your children that you’re getting a divorce?
There are a number of factors which this depends on including time of the year (seasons and holidays), children’s ages, and present conditions in the home.
What you don’t want to make your children do or feel is pick a side, parent you, or be a messenger to the other parent. How deeply the divorce conversation will be etched in your children’s memories will also depend on these factors.
The major factor in how well the conversation goes: parents showing their children they can get along and communicate to them on the same page.
Who should tell the children? You, the parents. Not outsiders like other family, friends, etc.
What is the best and worst thing both parents can do when talking to their children about the divorce? The best thing is to remember to have empathy for how your children will feel. The worst is attacking or blaming the other parent.
Focus on change. Not blame.
When having multiple conversations is important and what to include in the initial conversation with your kids
Emotional content is far more important than overwhelimg with secondary details; the latter can be addressed later in follow-up conversaions.
Focus on change, not blame – and how change affects the form of the family (i.e. parents living separately, new schedules, new schools)
Explain the reasons why you still will always be a family
You both still love your children very much. This is a change but you are both still their parents and nothing is changing about that.
The relevance of step parents – they are change too, but they are not replacement parents. Your kid’s mom and dad are not changing.
Emphasize what won’t be changing
Continuity is crucial. Emphasize all of the things that won’t be changing for them. This includes other family members, their friends, possibly where they go to school, outside activities they are participating in. Anything that helps to keep their lives more stable and normal through great change.
Answering that question from your children: “Why do things have to change”
What to focus on in answering this question: being in sync with the other parent.
What not to do in answering this question: venting or complaining about the other parent. Save that for your other family, friends, or your therapist.
Whether or not to use the word “divorce” with your children during the first conversation.
You know your family best. Do whichever is more appropriate for your children. Consider their ages and personlities. For very young children the word probably isn’t necessary. But if they ar older and or if they have heard the word external to the family and are familiar with it, they may bring it up themselves. This is okay and it’s fine to use it if you think it’s right to with your children.
Who else should you tell about your divorce to help your children?
Who to tell as soon as possible: your kids’ teachers and schools
How to handle your own parents / children’s grandparents
Should you tell coaches, musical or dance lesson instructors? Only if they really need to know because schedules are changing, etc.
Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach, recognized as The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce. She is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network which provides valuable resources for parents who are facing, moving through or transitioning after a divorce. She is also the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! and co-host of Divorce, Dating & Empowered Living Radio Show & Podcast. Rosalind is an expert blogger for numerous divorce, parenting and dating websites and blogs. Rosalind’s books, courses and programs for divorced parents and singles starting over can be found at her websites: www.childcentereddivorce.com, www.womendatingafter40.com, www.womendatingrescue.com and www.mensdatingformula.com.
Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.