Sadly, many couples find themselves at this crossroads of separation and finding the right words in order to let the children know can be tough.
Before you get started breaking the news to your children you need to sit down with your soon to be ex spouse and discuss in detail an "exit" plan. By this I mean you need to figure out who is going to stay in the house, who is going to go? Perhaps both of you decide to sell the house and find new places? You need to figure out a temporary schedule for which days the children will be with which parent. If you go into the conversation blindly you will find you child or children are going to be more stressed and have an emotionally harder time processing the information. Thing you might expect to hear once you let them know the news are:
"What does this mean for us?"
"How are lives going to change?"
"Whose house are we going to go to?"
"Which parent are we going to stay with?"
The worst possible thing you can tell a child who is already having a hard time processing the information is, "We will figure it out." Not having a detailed plan and going with the flow of things will not only cause you more stress but also the children. With those few words of "we are separating" you have changed their normal for ever. What they know will no longer be and what they don't know has yet to happen. Bottom line is you need to have this detailed plan for them to ease their minds and reassure them you have everything figured out and they do not need to worry about this.
Let the conversation flow into the details naturally. You should not explain the situation and then go directly into the details without coming up for air. Let them process each step and you will find the end result to be better than you could have hoped for. Always let the children know how much you love them and reiterate to them multiple times if necessary that the choice was 100% based on the parents lack of success. Many children naturally believe the marriage did not pull through due to the children, but you should never put that weight upon their shoulders or make them feel as if it is there fault. Give positive reassurance and comfort to let them know it had nothing to do with them. Even if it did, which is unlikely, there are many things that break a marriage, you should withhold any fault of the children in order to ease their stress. The parents job in life is to take on the pain and suffering as much as possible onto their shoulders, not to put it onto the children's shoulders. Sadly this happens sometimes and we don't realize we are adding to the pain and suffering instead of taking it away.
This will pass and you will get through it. I understand it can be a tough conversation but through the love of your children you will pull through. Have faith and determination to be successful and it will happen for you. You are beautiful, awesome and perfect just the way you are and the love that already surrounds you will be enough to conquer the world.
Below is an example conversation starter:
"Joey, we love you to pieces and your father and myself are extremely proud of the person you are becoming. We could not be more proud of you and are happy we have raised a great kid. Unfortunately your father and myself have made the choice to go our separate ways in order to give you the best life possible. This choice is 100% our decision and we still care about each other very much but right now our continued focus is you and raising the best kid possible. We don't wish to morn the loss of the marriage but rather feel liberated that we can be in a happier place while we raise you as co parents. I know this is coming to you as a shock but the bottom line is you are our world and we are going to make every effort for you in order to enjoy the rest of your days under our roofs."
This book seriously saved my life and helped the situation 10 fold. I recommend this book to ANYONE going through a divorce!
Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce
The example is focused on the kids and less about you and why your marriage failed and was awful and so on!
I would love to hear your story on how you told your children and maybe help others too with your own tips and tricks!
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