No parent wants to hurt their children, but that is what they fear will happen when they break the news about getting a divorce. Adult kids are old enough to accept the situation eventually, but young children benefit from a careful approach.
Many parents wonder about the timing of the news, especially if they must continue sharing a residence during the divorce. An expert with the Child Mind Institute says it is generally unwise to wait a very long time regardless of your living arrangements.
What else should you consider when telling your kids?
If you and your spouse can work together, sit down and plan how you will inform your children you are divorcing. Two things most child behavioral experts recommend when delivering unwelcome news involve:
- Telling your children together
- Presenting a unified, blame-free front
When children see their parents cooperating as they explain the situation, it may help them feel calm and reassured.
Here are more tips to consider:
- Explain how they will spend time with each parent (parenting plan)
- Answer any questions they may ask
- Assure them that it is nobody’s fault, least of all theirs
- Defend one another if a child lashes out at either of you
An unexpected benefit of this cooperative approach is that it could improve your spouse-to-spouse communication throughout your divorce. Since child custody is often hotly contested, anything you can do to promote cooperation benefits everyone involved.
Remember to protect your rights
While facilitating cooperation is good, do not compromise your own circumstances to make your divorce more amicable. Learn about your property and child custody rights under Arizona law, do not automatically rule out legal representation.