Telling Children About Divorce
Telling children about divorce can be one of the hardest conversations you will ever have. Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, your children are innocents, and have the right to be loved by both parents. So as you consider the ramifications of separation, you are encouraged to keep the children’s best interests in mind. This discussion provides you with an opportunity to give your kids a glimpse of how you will co-parent after the divorce is finalized.
Here are some helpful tips to help you when telling children about divorce:
1) Always tell them together. Keep the conversation age appropriate, spare them from ‘ugly details’ and do not engage in blaming and “throwing each other under the bus”.
2) Explain that it is NOT their fault.
3) Assure them that all feelings are acceptable.
4) Children thrive on predictability and routines give them comfort. They want to know that they will have access to their friends, extended family, and school. So explain to them what it means day to day as best as you can.
The Children’s Bill of Rights
As I work with parents to form strong co-parenting plans, I often refer to this wonderful document called the Children’s Bill of Rights. While it’s not legally binding, it’s a great way to ensure that both parents remember that their children should be their main concern.
Some of my favorite “inalienable” rights are:
We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.
The right not to be asked to “choose sides”.
The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
The right not to be a messenger.
The right to express my feelings.
The right to love and have a relationship with both parents.
The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities.
The right to expect healthy relationship modeling
Remember, you are divorcing your spouse… not your children. Every decision you and your spouse make should be with your kid’s best interest first in mind.