How To Tell Your Children That You Are Getting Divorced
Shannon Hutton over at Sparkplugging wrote a tremendous post recently on the do’s and dont’s of telling your children that you are getting divorced. Reading this article brought back some very bitter memories for me as I come from a broken home.
My parent’s divorce was not a “friendly” divorce – I refuse to believe that any one ever is. There was infidelity on one side and it got really ugly to say the least. My brother was out of high school and I was still in high school, so we of course knew of the situation. It is not so easy if the children are younger and don’t fully grasp the importance of what is happening.
In Babywise (for all new parents, GET THIS BOOK AND READ IT COVER TO COVER PRIOR TO HAVING YOUR CHILD), it talks about what children believe is the end of their own lives if the family unit is not kept intact. They believe their own life is over since both parents may not be there to fill their every need. I think this fear becomes a reality for them and it could literally leave them scarred for life.
Shannon discusses the desire of the parents to have the talk with their children over as quickly as possible. As much as I am a believer in that the truth will set you free, when it comes to children, sometimes the truth is not always the best scenario. As Shannon points out, the truth maybe yes, but all the details can be left out. I know there will be all kinds of flack on this, but if I didn’t know of the infidelity in my parent’s case until I was much older, that would have been fine with me.
The hardest part of the discussion, as she points out, is the confusion over what divorce really means to them and their view of the entire world as they know it. Their lives will be turned upside down.
One very important piece of advice she gave was to ensure them how much both Mommy and Daddy love them and that NOTHING ever will change this. Even though there will be changes coming in “how” their lives will change slightly, it is imperative to ensure them they will be provided for, safe, and all of their needs and wants will be met as they were before.
The other piece of advice, which was not touched on in detail in this article, is to make certain the child knows and understands that the divorce has absolutely nothing to do with them. Just as the child may have conflict with another child or a sibling, etc and that it was not the fault of the parents, this divorce is NOT the fault of the children. When my parents got divorced, even though I was in high school, those thoughts were still racing through my mind. I knew all too well it had nothing to do with me, but still…you never know as a young person.
This article by Shannon Hutton was a very good in that it spoke to the “how” of speaking to your children about the divorce. It did not delve to much into the what or when, but I know she is planning pieces on this as well.
From a man’s perspective, one of the core traits of manliness is to Protect Your Family At All Costs. When it comes to how you discuss a pending divorce, this trait will be called into question. Us men know all about protecting our family physically. If something poses a threat to our family, we go into action and whoever is threatening better have made their peace with God because things are not going to turn out good. When it comes to protecting our family emotionally, our ability tends to fall apart. We are not emotional beasts and we need all the help we can get when our family is at risk of being hurt by something as emotional as a family divorce.
Shannon talks about a couple of books to help us through this. Since a good friend of mine went through recently, he told me that Dinosaurs Divorce is tremendous. Another fantastic book on this subject is Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.
Shannon, thanks for the great article.