When parents have reached the decision to tell their child they are getting divorced or separated, Dr. Bingham Newman offers this candid advice.
“You have to keep that door or window open,” she said. “You have to communicate with kids! And if you haven’t been up till then, you’d better start.”
Newman provided a list for divorcing parents to help them in this endeavor. Among its suggestions:
- Tell your child as soon as a definite decision is reached.
- Make sure all family members (including both parents) are present.
- Plan ahead about exactly when and what you are going to say.
- Be honest and straightforward.
- Give a simple reason for the divorce.
- Don’t assess blame.
- Emphasize that your child did not cause the divorce.
- Emphasize that both parents will continue to love and care for the child.
- Emphasize that your child is still part of a family.
- Describe things that will stay the same.
- Describe changes that will occur.
- If your child is older, outline steps that have been taken to save the marriage.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
- Encourage questions.
- Repeat the information on more than one occasion.
Excerpt from The House Matters in Divorce by Laurel Starks, Unhooked Books.