Even though your children are not a party to your divorce, it will change their lives irrevocably. However, the change does not necessarily have to be negative.
Divorce can be traumatic for children but what really damages them in the long term is conflict between parents. If your divorce ends your conflict with your spouse, or at least keeps it out of your children’s view, then ultimately, it can be a positive change. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes some steps you can take to make the news of your divorce easier for your children to understand and accept.
Use clear, simple messaging
The most important things that your children need to hear about your divorce is that it is not their fault and that they will still be safe and loved. Craft your announcement so that it makes these points explicitly.
Make your message age-appropriate
Your child’s maturity level influences how much he or she can understand about your decision to divorce. Keep this in mind when planning what to say and make your message appropriate for your child’s developmental level.
This can be difficult if you have multiple children with big age gaps between them. Because it is preferable to give the news to the whole family at once, it may be a good idea to give the bare essentials to the whole family and then have the younger kids leave the room so you can have a more in-depth conversation with the older kids.
It may not be possible to anticipate all the concerns your children have about your divorce. Therefore, it is a good idea to invite them to ask whatever questions they have so you can put their fears to rest early on. However, your children may need time to process the news before they think of questions to ask. Make sure they know that it is okay for them to think about it and ask questions later.
Follow up by asking your children if they have questions after a day or two. Tell them explicitly that you and the other parent are always willing to listen whenever they need to talk.