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, then you’d better start.”
Newman provided a list for divorcing parents to help them in this endeavor. Among his suggestions:
- 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.