Delivering the news of divorce to children is a difficult task. That’s why it’s imperative that divorcing parents have a pre-planned script outlined and rehearsed before breaking the news to their children.
Though you may be hyperaware of your marital issues, your children may be entirely unaware that irreconcilable discord in your marriage has led to this life-altering decision. Or, on the other hand, they could be very aware of the marital discord in the home and almost have anticipated this outcome. Either way, presenting them with this news will prompt marked emotions. This is even more of a reason to come to this conversation prepared on what to say so your children will better receive the news.
Writing the Script – What to Do and What Not to Do
You and your spouse must set aside a time to create a script to deliver to the children– together. Here are some points you should cover:
- Assure your children you love them unconditionally and nothing can alter that fact.
- Make it clear that they did not cause the divorce proceedings
- Also, make it clear that they cannot stop the divorce proceedings
- Explain that they will be residing in two loving homes going forward
- Reassure the children that they will continue to have their special belongings and important people surrounding them (toys, pets, friends, schoolmates, grandparents, etc.)
- Explain that they will always have access to both of you whenever they need to and wherever they are through FaceTime, Skype, cell phones, etc.).
If you can cover these essential points, you’re setting the stage for your children to accept this new family arrangement.
The three things you want to avoid doing in your script are:
- Lying – Your children don’t need to know the details of your marital issues but they do need to know the overarching truth of the situation.
- Blaming – Do not take anger out at your spouse in front of your children. Your role is to co-parent.
- Defending – You are delivering a decision that has already been made. You are the only two people who can decide if your relationship works, and your children cannot change your decision.
- Giving False Hope – State the decision clearly and that it is final. As hard as it may be you, cannot allow your children to believe anything other than the reality of the divorce.
Practice the Script
Being prepared is the best way to deliver this information to your children. Once you have both prepared the outline of your script, you should practice your talking points aloud with each other before delivering it to the children. By rehearsing it, you will assure that you stick to the message and not get side-tracked by other issues that could come up during the delivery of the news.
The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to communicate your main message that your children are safe and loved despite these divorce proceedings.
Need guidance with divorce? Contact the Law Office of Marta J Papa for a St. Louis divorce mediator with over 30 years of experience.