You have made the situation to separate and now the time has come to tell your children. We know you are dreading it, it is in no way an easy conversation and it will be difficult for everyone involved. However, the sooner you are able to have the conversation means you are now able to have things out in the open.
Here is a short list of some tips on how to prepare and have the conversation with your children.
1. HAVE BOTH PARENTS PRESENT AS A UNITED FRONT
It is important when you have this conversation that you do not appear hostile or fractured from your child’s other parent. It is important that the children see that you both are having this conversation with them and you are both there for them through this difficult time.
2. LET THEM KNOW YOU LOVE THEM AND IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT
Kids have a tendency to blame themselves. Similarly, when you are fighting with your child’s other parent, children can sometimes feel that it is their responsibility to take on that emotion and mitigate the tension.
Remember to let them know they are loved and that it is not their fault. Potentially rehearse your reason as to why you have separated with your now ex-partner. This can make for easy communication when this comes up during the conversation.
3. INVEST TIME IN PREPARING YOURSELF AND PREEMPTING QUESTIONS
This is not an easy conversation to have and of course you will be nervous! You are only human! You can always contact a professional/counselor on how to approach the conversation as a way to prepare if this is the easiest way for you and your ex-partner.
Preempting questions with your ex-partner is also a good idea as it keeps you both on the same page. If the children realise you are not saying the same thing, it doesn’t show them you are both a united front and it can be confusing for them. You don’t have to preempt everything but maybe discuss what you think the main questions the kids will ask and discuss the best possible answers for the time being.
4. ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS AND RECOGNISE THEM
It is important that your children know their feelings matter during this time. Listen to them and make sure you are following up with their emotions during the conversation and after. This also helps to show them that having the feelings and emotions they have are normal.
Once the conversation has occurred, you can also consider booking in an appointment with a child psychologist so they can talk about the changes and the feelings they are experiencing.
5. MAKE TALKING ABOUT SEPARATION AN ONGOING PROCESS
Keep your children in the loop. Now this does not mean dump every emotion you have on them or tell them every detail. Make this judgement based on their age and maturity.
If you make talking about your separation normal, then your children will feel more open to ask questions if they are still confused and it encourages open communication.
We also have a previous article on our blog page with book recommendations to explain divorce to children! These can be really useful especially if you have very young children.