If you and your ex-spouse have decided to divorce, you’re probably feeling hesitant about breaking the new to your child.
A number of factors can make this conversation easier or more difficult, such as the age of your child, your finances and whether the divorce is amicable. With these considerations in mind, here are a few pointers that may help you tell your child you’re getting divorced.
Work with the other parent
The primary concern of child custody court is the child’s best interests. Talking to your ex-spouse about how you will tell your child that you’re divorcing is the first of many scenarios in which the two of you will have to put aside your personal differences and focus on how your decisions may affect your child.
If possible, agree not to antagonize one another. Though you won’t be married any longer, your child will still look to both you and your ex as role models.
Plan the discussion
If you and your ex-spouse are able to have the divorce discussion with your child together, agree on a time and date that you will have the talk. Avoid choosing a time frame that is limited or just before an activity that is important to your child.
Ensure that the discussion can happen in a private place where you can all sit together.
Control your emotions
It’s good to teach our children to recognize, embrace and express our emotions. However, during this difficult transition, your child will look to you for stability. Try rehearsing what you will say to prepare for the conversation.
If you may become too emotional during the discussion, consider having another trusted adult talk to the child about the situation.
Cover the important topics
Here are a few important topics your discussion should cover:
- The decision to divorce
- The "reason" for the divorce — explain that you and the other parent are no longer a suitable match for one another, instead of giving all of the details
- The decision is not the child’s fault
- Divorce comes with a lot of change
- It’s okay to feel upset or worried about the effects of this change
- If applicable, discuss the type of custody arrangement you and your spouse have agreed to. Otherwise, explain that these changes aren’t decided yet
- Tools your child can use to process this information once the discussion is over
- Open conversation
- Private journal
- A third party trusted adult
In Texas, a child’s wishes are considered if a court decides that one parent will hold sole custody of a child. However, avoid pressuring your child into choosing sides.
To learn more about how to come to a child arrangement agreement as well as other divorce-related issues, such as property division and support payments, contact a divorce attorney for advice.