Q: Is there a right way and wrong way to tell your children that your marriage is over?
A: Studies have shown that it isn’t divorce per se that damages children. The harm is done by mistakes the parents make before, during, and after this event. This is why you need to be very deliberate in how you tell your children.
Children need to feel safe and secure. Their imaginations can run wild. They also need to know they are loved. Don’t assume they know the depth of your love and concern. Verbalize your love and your commitment to cherish these little ones.
“You are, and always will be, loved by Mom and Dad.” You will always be your child’s parents, even if under new circumstances.
Many times children feel that they are the cause of their parents’ breaking up. It is very important for them to understand that what is happening is not their fault. That’s a heavy burden to lay on a child if you do this.
Discussing the divorce with your children is not the time to take digs at your spouse. This is about change, not blaming, nor about catastrophizing. Even if you have doubts yourself, you’ll want to convey a sense that everything is going to be O.K.
July is National Child Centered Divorce Month. If you’re considering divorce, have begun the process or are already divorced, you should know two things. First, divorce will affect your children no matter what. Second, the way you and your spouse or ex handle it will amplify or minimize the impact your decision has on the future health of your kids.