Talking With Your Children About Divorce:
Changing the Ritual by which Couples Divorce
Find a quiet time and place, maybe after dinner, to talk together with all your children.
Allow the parent who is ahead of the other in the process to begin to speak first.
Ask the children what they, themselves, have noticed about your relationship. Are you having more fun together than you used to? Do you seem more upset with one another than you used to? What have they noticed?
Tell them you have been observing your relationship yourselves, too, for quite some time, talking about it, and even talking with a neutral professional decision-making helper about it.
They are the most important people in the world to you. You couldn’t make a decision about the future of your relationship, something which will deeply affect everyone, without very careful and thoughtful consideration.
Although you still love each other, and respect each other deeply, you haven’t been as happy together as you could be and want to be. Perhaps you have grown apart to such a distance that you can’t reach back and connect to one another. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. You have certainly tried.
In spite of the pain of loss of the family unit under one roof, you have made the decision to separate and divorce. There will be sadness, even anger, sometimes feelings of hate and rage, which are normal feelings. These feelings are temporary and you will return to feeling normal and, hopefully, sooner than later.
It is your intention to put a roof, “a kind of umbrella of protection” over all of you, as a family. You intend to “preserve the nest”.You will continue to do things together; parent conferences, graduations, dinners out, get-togethers with extended family, weddings, births; maybe even more times. You won’t fail to let the other parent know how you’re doing when you are with them; you won’t fall between any cracks. You intend to talk regularly, to have “Parent Conferences”, to talk to each other and with you about your needs at school, extracurricular activities, work: about everything you are involved in.. If anything, you intend to be more, rather than less attentive to their needs and more present when they need you, and even when they don’t!
Getting divorced is about parents still being parents, but no longer a couple who tries, and keeps trying to create a good couple relationship. You still intend to create an even better parent relationship, which will never end. You will always be their parents, forever and ever.
You want them to feel open to come to talk with you, to tell you when they are mad at you, because most kids are mad at their parents when their family restructures into two homes. And, you may recommend that they get a professional outside-the-family counselor or a group counseling situation, at least for a little while. You hope they find friends who have encountered this challenge, successfully, with whom they can be friends and from whom they can learn how those friends have adjusted and maybe even like their situations.
“Most of all, we want you to know that we respect each other…for X and Y reasons, especially. And, that without having been married to one another, which was good in this and that ways, we wouldn’t have had you as our particular children in our lives. This would have been unimaginable and we have no regrets about this marriage. It was meant to be. Remember you don’t have to protect us or be our parents. You need to pay attention to what you need and go about the business of being kids, just people of your own age!”
“We’ll both be here, without any out of town travels, or business trips, for at least five days, consecutively, and much longer if we are able, so we can answer all of your questions, provide you comfort and listen to your feelings. We both believe there is a better, more hopeful future to come after the clouds and the rain clear away.”