Once a couple makes the decision to get a divorce, the next step is to tell the children. For most kids, regardless of their ages, the news their parents are splitting up is hard to hear and understand. Prepare for the conversation so the transition is as easy as possible for them.
According to healthychildren.org, parents should tell the kids together to demonstrate when it comes to parenting, they are providing a united front. Leave out the details and give a simple and clear message. Emphasize the decision will help both parents be happier and that there is still so much love for the kids. Many children will focus on their security and everyday routines, so make sure to talk about that. Answer any questions the kids may have with honesty and clarity, even if the answer is “I don’t know.” Many children will wonder if the divorce is their fault, and it is important to let them know, multiple times, that it is not.
According to Today’s Parent, children will have various reactions to the news based on their age. For kids five and younger, there will not be a complete understanding of what is happening. They may display behaviors such as anxiety, irritability, clinginess and whininess. Focus on routines and providing basic information.
Kids between the ages of six and 11 may be sad, angry and scared. They also need routines and stable care, and they may be more apt to discuss what they are feeling. Older children may be moodier and angrier. The teenage years are already challenging, and there may be issues with academic performance and even alcohol or drug use. Communication is important during this time, and firm boundaries and consequences help. However, always show love and care for them during this difficult stage.