Very few of the decisions you make in your life will have as strong of an impact on your children as the decision to file for divorce. Divorce can affect everything from your children’s standard of living to what schools they attend.
You probably already know that divorce will be hard on your children. Being conscious of that impact is important, especially when you first tell your children about the changes they will soon experience.
What should you tell the children?
Unless your kids are old enough to understand intimate, interpersonal relationships, they probably don’t need details about why you and your co-parent are divorcing. Knowing that one parent has cheated or has started compulsively gambling could damage their relationship with that parent or even their perception of themselves.
Most of the time, keeping the explanations simple and clarifying that it has nothing to do with them is more important than giving your children an in-depth explanation of your personal reasons for filing.
When should you tell the children?
Ideally, you and your spouse can sit down with your children at once. If there’s a significant difference in age, you might want to tell them separately. It’s always best for both of you to be part of the conversation.
You need to tell the children about the divorce as soon as you know there will be practical consequences, like one parent moving out or changes to financial circumstances. The children should not know before your spouse unless you are in a situation where you need to leave because of domestic violence.
Planning carefully for what will be a difficult conversation will help set you up for co-parenting success during your divorce.