You and your spouse spend weeks talking about potentially getting a divorce. You mull it over. You go to couples counseling. You talk to your friends and other family members.
In the end, you decide to split up. There's only one step left: Somehow, you need to tell the kids. They have no idea, and you know it's really going to change their world. How should you do it? Here are a few tips that can help:
1. Work as a team
Yes, the marriage is ending, but you still need to be a team. You need to show the kids that you're together on this decision, and you need to tell them together. Put aside your own differences and focus on them.
2. Stress your love
The kids may feel like you don't love them or like they made you want to get divorced. They didn't, and you know you love them. Tell them about it. Tell them repeatedly. Make sure they know and never assume anything. This should be the focus of the conversation: How you are still their parents and you still love them despite the changes that are coming.
3. Pick out what information to give them
They will want to know why you're getting divorced, and it's best to be honest. Even so, kids at any age do not need to know all of the reasons that an adult relationship may end. Sit down with your spouse and decide what you want to tell them. Take into account their age, their relationships with you and each other, and how that information can help shape their future.
4. Remember that kids are different
Different children need different things. One child may have more questions. Another may need more support. Still another may just want some space. Think about how they differ and then work with them in a way that really connects with them.
5. Talk about it calmly
This should never be a conversation you have in anger or the heat of the moment. You want to calmly break the news in a controlled setting. If you feel like you are getting angry with them or your spouse during the conversation, you need to control that and/or put the talk on hold until you feel better.
6. Avoid blaming one another
Again, it comes back to the idea of working together and remembering that both you and your spouse will stay in the kids' lives after the divorce. Don't blame one another and keep things civil.
This can be a complex process. As you move forward, take the time to look into all of your legal options in Washington, D.C.