If possible, both parents should be present when you tell the children about the separation or divorce. This will prevent one parent from blaming the other and give both parents a chance to answer the children’s questions. Having both parents involved will also help the children understand that they are not being abandoned. But if there is open hostility between the parents, it’s best if only one parent sits down with the children to explain what’s happening.
Here are some tips for when and where to tell the children:
- Choose a safe and comfortable environment where the children can react honestly and openly.
- Don’t wait until the last possible moment. Avoiding the situation may only further confuse the children.
- Try to avoid giving them the news when you’re anxious or upset, as this will add to your children’s anxiety.
- Pick a quiet time in the day, with few distractions and enough time for an unhurried discussion. For younger children, it’s best not to speak to them about these issues when they’re tired or cranky.
- Children are confused by separation and divorce. It may be better if you have a few shorter talks with them, explaining only the most important issues at first.
- The first conversation will be the most difficult, but encourage and commit to further meetings. The children will have more questions in time.
- Be with the children and stay around after you’ve told them.