You and your spouse may have known for a while that you were headed for divorce. However, that does not mean that your kids are expecting news about your decision, so when is the right time to tell them?
If you and your spouse have recently decided to divorce, it may be best to avoid rushing into a conversation about it with your kids. On the other hand, kids are very perceptive, and they may know something has changed, even if they are not expecting divorce.
It can be best to tell children sooner rather than later. You probably wouldn’t want them to hear it from someone else. However, this conversation may be one your children remember for a long time, so there are several important factors to consider when choosing the right time.
Make sure it is actually happening
Avoid telling your kids about your divorce if there is a chance it might not happen. This type of news can be very distressing for kids and it may spare their emotions if you and your spouse are able to work things out.
Have an expectation for the future
If the divorce is definitely going to happen, try to get an idea of some of the changes that may take place. For example, which parent will move out, when they will move out, where the children will live and when the children will see each parent.
There can be a lot of uncertainty for everyone during a divorce, but kids thrive on routines. It can help them prepare for the changes ahead if they have some idea about what they should expect.
Pick a normal day
Once you have a general idea of what changes may be coming, it is time to pick the right day and time. It is best to tell kids before any divorce-related changes occur. Don’t wait until after a parent moves out.
It may also be good to avoid certian days and times of day when emotions may run high. This includes birthdays and holidays. It also includes times right before a child usually takes a nap or goes to bed.
Gather everyone together
Choose a day when you and your spouse can both participate, when all your kids can be told at once and when no one is rushed. Then, go ahead and call a family meeting.
When you and your spouse break the news, agree on one, simple, honest message that avoids blaming anyone. Share with your kids what changes may come with divorce, and reassure them that both parents love them and that the divorce is not their fault.
Your kids may have a variety of questions at once or may need to have several brief conversations about it over the next several days. It is normal for siblings to have very different reactions from each other.
There may never be the perfect time to tell someone bad news. However, some times are worse than others. By trying to avoid some of the less ideal times, you can give your kids the best opportunity possible to cope with the news.