I advise my clients not to rush into this conversation too soon. Parents worry about having the conversation and sometimes there’s a risk they might rush into it to get it over and done with.
It’s common for the decision to divorce to be made by one of the couple, and their spouse will need time to process the information for themselves as well as the couple having initial discussions about the logistics, before speaking to the children about it.
When it becomes appropriate to tell the children will depend on the circumstances of the particular family. Every situation is different. The right time needs to be decided by the parents. Whilst the adult relationship dynamic is changing the couple are still parents to the children and are still a family. The decision to tell the children needs to be child-focused and be about ‘what would help the children most with how we approach this conversation?’
The parents should work together to be on the same page as to what when and how the children will be told their parents are separating. The children will remember the conversation, so it needs to be approached very carefully.
The parents need to make sure it’s them that tells the children and the children don’t hear the news from another source – e.g. friends or family or one parent without the other knowing.
The timing could also depend on the ages of the children. Particularly young children should be protected from the adult issues for as long as possible and I suggest they perhaps don’t get told until there are going to be changes made in their life – e.g. one of the parents is to move out. Whereas for teens, it can help them to be told sooner rather than later so they have time to process the information before there are any material changes made to their life. Older children have much more understanding and may have picked up that things are not good between their parents. They may have overheard conversations and are wondering what’s going on.
It is helpful for each parent to have a ‘go to’ person they can confide in about their feelings. This provides a helpful outlet for them and avoid unnecessary information being shared with the children.
For advice on how to tell the children, see my blog – How to tell the children you are getting divorced.
If you have found the tips in this blog useful then you’ll find lots more in my eBooks, which you can purchase and download today.
If you’d like to work with me 1:1, for help preparing for your divorce/or support during or after the divorce process, please get in touch to find out how I can help.
Why I became a divorce consultant.