Together, Tell the Kids About the Coming Divorce at a Family Meeting

Harlan Jacobsen Copyright 2003

Most couples in the throes of parting, one or the other insists on counseling to try to put the marriage back together. Once one has decided it is over, this usually soon becomes apparent to both that this is not going to work and it is going to be a waste of time.

However, if you can both agree you need to come apart with the least turmoil, then I would suggest you seek counseling on how to come a part, particularly to make it not only emotionally easier on each other but to learn how to help your children accept and handle the divorce by doing that part of it right.

Get the family to an everybody in attendance meeting and both parents explain together the coming divorce, why the divorce, what the new living arrangements will be, who is leaving and what the visitation arrangement will be.

The children need to know you are divorcing each other, no more husband and wife, but the children are not divorcing, you are still going to be as usual, mother and father.

That they do not need to and should not be taking sides, nor should they be angry about this happening, explain it is happening to lots of parents and children in your school and all over the world. That about half of marriages end in divorce so people every where have to learn to live with it.

Together, you need to make clear to your children, that your coming apart has nothing to do with anything they have done, and there is nothing they could have done differently that would have stopped or changed your coming apart.

That they are very loving children and that are going to continue to be loved and cherished just the same as before by both parents.

They also need to be informed that there is nothing they can or should do now to try to put it all back together.

The children also need to have pointed out to them, that you are both going to be a little weird parents during the coming apart process and they need to be a little more understanding of both parents and each other during this difficult time and process.

They need to know who is moving out and that the person moving out is not abandoning the children, they will still be seeing each other, and explain how visitation is going to be worked out. Explain how the living arrangements are planned to work.

They will need to continue to be reassured thet will never be abandoned, it is just the way divorce works, one parent has to move away from their marriage partner.

That both parents understand the children are going to have strong feelings and are also going to have their life turned upside down and be upset as well, during the process just like the parents.

That they can continue to just be children, they are not expected to and do not need to take over the moving parents job.

That we can all talk about it and help each other all a long the way as we go thru our losses and the process of recovering.

All need to be reminded that the parents and the children will all need to be more understanding and help each other get thru the process.

That all of this will need to be repeated over and over during the months ahead particularly for the younger children.

This meeting can be crucial to get the children to deal with reality.

Announce at the end of the discussion we will plan to all get together to discuss with both of us what needs to be changed or how we can make this new arrangement work better in a few months.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to do, with both parents in the middle of an emotional coming apart process, but if it can be put together, some months after divorce, make arrangements when the father stops by to pick up the children etc. to get together to go over all of the above points again and discuss with everyone present how this is going and what needs to be talked about.

Now for some rules for the parents.

    Do not use the children as reporters (or spys) on what the STBX (soon to be ex) is doing

    Do not try to make the children fill the job of being your counselor, where you verbally dump all your anger, frustrations, emotions and problems on them.

    Do not belittle or run down the STBX in earshot of your children.

Nearly everyone in the divorce process has a at least a temporary lowering of their standard of living, so do not blame your STBX, in front of the children, explain, it comes with and is part of the pain of divorce.

Parents should remember, children are not "prizes" for the winner of a contest, they are not to be used as messengers between the parties, and they are never required to lie to cover for either parent.

Nor are parents to lie to their children to try to cover for the other parent.

The children are the major good and big lasting part that came out of this marriage.

You have stopped being a husband or a wife.
You have not stopped being parents.

You both need to redouble your efforts to continue to be loving supportive parents during what is a very difficult time for your children.

Related Aritcles: Single Parenting Divorce - Catastrophe for Kids?

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