As if maneuvering the choppy waters of divorce isn’t tricky enough, communicating the process to your kids can feel even more complicated. You might want to brush it under the rug, but addressing those changes with your children first hand is essential. Here are some tips to help navigate the conversation.
Utilize support. Have a third party family member who is a mediator, such as a trusted aunt, uncle or godparent. This should be in addition to a strong support network of friends, family and babysitters that can alert you to behavioral red flags. Sometimes it really does take a village, and there’s no shame in that.
Make sure it’s absolutely real and this is 100 percent what your course of action is. If it ends up just being a trial separation, you might risk breaking trust boundaries with your kids and scaring them for no reason. Once you’ve exhausted all back and forth and indecisiveness with your spouse, then tackle bringing it up with the kids.
Push aside common sense and put yourself on their shoes. Remind them that they’re not the reason this happened, and both of you will always ask fiercely love them. Emphasize that they are not to blame for this situation whatsoever – this might seem logical to you, but in a vulnerable moment within childhood, spelling it out for them is key.
Keep their routines amidst the drama. Routine is one of the essential pillars of healthy mental health, especially for kids of divorce. Keep them in the same school, maintain after-school activities, and encourage play dates with the same friends. This will act as an anchor of normalcy.
Be honest with your kids, but don’t make them your therapist. Always communicate feelings, but remember that you’re there to comfort them as a parent, not the other way around. It’s OK to be sad or upset, but never trash talk your ex or ask your kids to relay messages. An equal playing ground is necessary – you’re both the child’s parent and he loves you the same, regardless of personal vendettas.