California couples considering divorce have many tough decisions to make and telling your children about the separation is one of them. How you handle the initial discussion, as well as those still to come, can alter the way they see themselves and the rest of the world.
Psychology Today explains that cooperative co-parenting during and after a divorce is essential to helping your children deal with conflicting feelings that can include grief, anger, confusion, anxiety and more. Consider the following when determining what to tell them.
Breaking the news
Speak to all your children at the same time to break the news, then follow up with each one separately and repeatedly. They need time to digest the information and what it means and will benefit more from short discussions held one-on-one.
Hearing that the family unit is breaking up may bring great concern about what is in store for them individually. They need to understand that neither parent is abandoning them and both of them will continue to be part of their lives.
The blame game
Let children know they had no part in the divorce and they are not to blame. Do not play the blame game; let them know the problem is between the parents only.
You may think being vague is kinder, but resist the urge to downplay your divorce. They may hear what they want to hear and continue hoping for reconciliation.
Listen and watch
Make time to check in with them and keep an eye out for clues to how they are feeling. Reassure your kids that what they feel is normal and it is okay to talk about their emotions. Encourage them to ask questions as well.
Do not tell them all the details of why you are divorcing. Stick to explaining that you have tried but are unable to work things out together. Do not criticize the other parent before the children who may take it personally, as they are part of that parent.
The information in this article is general in nature and is not meant to be taken as legal advice.