by Christina McGhee
If possible, have both parents present when telling children about the divorce. Discuss what you will tell children before hand. Also, keep explanations simple and avoid placing blame. Use general statements such as Mom and Dad can't live together anymore or Mom and Dad have decided we would be happier living in different homes.
Children need to understand the decision to divorce had nothing to do with them or their behavior. Further kids should be told there is nothing they can do to change what is happening in the family nor is it their responsibility to fix the family.
Make sure they understand the love shared between a parent and child and is different than the love shared between a husband and wife. Kids need to know that the love you have for them will last forever.
Children should not feel they have to take sides or worry about losing the love of either parent.
Answer questions such as where they will live and with whom, when they will see each parent, where will the other parent be, how they can contact either parent, school arrangements, involvement in activities etc.
Let children know what the parenting schedule will be and how they can reach each parent. Inform children that they can contact either parent when they feel they need to talk with that parent. Also, if one parent chooses not to be involved in a child's life, it is best not to be dishonest with your child or misrepresent the truth.
Such as neighborhood, friends, school, activities and contact with extended family members.
Provide school with necessary information regarding the divorce such as who will be the primary contact, changes in emergency numbers, who will pick children up and when. Respect your children and remember to be discrete about details. This will also help you steer clear of the temptation to drag others into the drama of your divorce.
Continue to show your children you love them through both words and actions.
Support their right to have feelings about what is happening in their lives. Help your children find safe and healthy ways to express these feelings.
Find healthy ways to deal with you feelings and help your children develop safe ways to process their own feelings.
Children will wonder about the possibility of being divorced/abandoned by a parent (i.e. Are you going to leave me like you left each other?). Therefore keeping your word with children and following through with plans, as well as, promises are very important. Bottom line, don't just talk the talk; you also need to walk the walk.
Children need a relationship with both of their parents. Remember, while a person may not be a good marriage partner, they can still be an excellent parent.
Develop new family traditions, rituals or activities such as creating special ways to spend the holidays, getting a family portrait or planning a weekly family dinner night.
Christina McGhee is a divorce professional who has devoted her career to helping children and families find healthy ways to move forward following divorce. She specializes in dealing with difficult divorce situations and strives to help parents minimize conflict for the sake of the children. In addition to maintaining a practice as a divorce coach and parent educator in the Greater Houston area, she is also the creator and host of the online resource for parents, Divorce and Children.