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How to Talk to Your Children About a Divorce

Child Custody Mediation: How to Tell Your Kids You’re Getting a Divorce

You and your spouse have officially decided to get a divorce. You know you need to tell your children about what’s going on, but you aren’t sure how or when to have the conversation. You’re preparing to give your children news that’s going to have an effect on the rest of their lives, so you know you can’t just casually bring the topic up any random time.

Before you enter into child custody mediation, you and your spouse should come up with a plan of action for communicating with your children from this point forward. Here are some tips to help you make this stressful, emotional time a little easier on the whole family.

Be sure you’re actually getting a divorce.

Before you get your children involved, make sure you are actually going to get a divorce. Don’t tell your children you’re just “thinking about getting a divorce”. If you’re going to put your family through an emotional roller coaster, be certain that you know what you want the eventual outcome to be.

Present a united front.

One of the worst things you could do during a divorce is to start playing the blame game in front of your children. Rather than telling your kids that your spouse is making you get a divorce or that you have no choice, tell them that you’ve made this decision together. Even if you and your spouse can’t agree on anything right now, you need to be able to make decisions together for the sake of your children.

Have the talk as a whole family.

It can be tempting to talk to your kids separately or to have one parent bear the bad news before the other, but these aren’t the best approaches. Instead, have the conversation as a whole family. It will help you reassure your kids that even though the dynamic is changing, you both still love them and will remain a family.

Have a plan and try your best to stick to it.

With a conversation as important as this one, you don’t want to just “wing it”. If you have to practice what you’re going to say, write down notes, or ask for advice, there’s no shame in that. Once you have a plan for the conversation, try your best to stick to it, rather than letting your emotions take over when the time comes.

Choose the right time and place.

The middle of a restaurant, in the car on the way to school, and at your child’s favorite place in town are terrible times and places to have a conversation about your divorce. You want to choose a time where you won’t have to worry about rushing off to school or work afterward. Your kids will need time to process the information, and when they’re ready, you’ll want to be available for support. Additionally, choose a quiet, private location where you and your family can have an honest conversation about your future without worrying about outside observers.

Prepare yourselves for the worst.

While all children process trauma differently, your kids may get angry, sad, frustrated, or completely shut down upon hearing the news of your split. As hard as you prepare and as smooth as you think the conversation went, it’s important to understand things from their perspective. While you and your spouse may have been miserable for months, this news could be coming out of nowhere to your kids.

Reassure your children that you love them and that this is not their fault.

This is quite possibly the most important thing to remember when it comes to child custody mediation and your divorce. Your children need both of you to show them that you still love them and that this is absolutely not their fault.

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