Preparing children can be the scariest part of your divorce. It can be so confusing to know what to tell your kids and what to keep private between you and your spouse. The two most important things you can do are to never be negative about your spouse in front of the children and to be honest with them. Older children may have difficult questions for you so be prepared to answer as honestly as possible without laying blame on anyone.
The age of your children is an important factor in how you need to prepare them for your divorce. Very small children may not understand much more than mom and dad are going to live in separate houses. They need to be assured that both parents love them very much and that they will be able to see both often. Elementary age children may have questions about where they will live and if they will still be able to see their friends.
Teenagers could have difficult questions for you. They often want to know why and may ask questions about conversations they have overheard. Before you talk to your children, decide exactly what both spouses are comfortable sharing and leave other details private. It is enough to reinforce that you both love the kids as much as always, but that you cannot live together anymore.
Older kids may worry about whether you will still have money to live on and for them to continue with their own activities, such as sports and dance. Assure them that they will always be cared for, but if there will be significant changes in their routine, you need to be honest as soon as possible. Do not put blame on either parent – simply say that lots of things are changing and they need to be ready.
If at all possible, both parents should be there when the children are told about the divorce. They need to see that, even if you cannot live together, you will always be there for their needs. This will be a difficult conversation so you may want to practice what you want to say before you start. Make sure both parents have time to share their thoughts and that they love the children.
Children will often blame themselves for a divorce, even when they are told it has nothing to do with them. You will need to reassure them constantly of your love and that nothing is their fault. Make sure they have time to visit both parents and are comfortable knowing they can call or text anytime.
The best way to prepare your children for divorce is to be honest with them. Children know when they are being lied to and even if you feel you are protecting them, your lies may backfire. Answer their questions as best you can, but feel free to tell them some things are private. Explain any changes in their daily routines and be ready at all times for extra hugs and kisses.