It doesn’t matter if your adult children are 18 or 35, hearing that you and their other parent are divorcing can still come as a shock and be incredibly upsetting.
Knowing how to break the news of your impending divorce can make it easier to keep your relationships with your children on solid ground.
What do you say? What shouldn’t you say?
There are some basic things that you need to keep in mind over the next few weeks (or months) as you talk the situation over with your children. Here’s a quick guide:
- Deliver the news in person. Don’t text, email or call to deliver the news unless there is absolutely no other way to do it. That can leave your children upset, confused and angry.
- Deliver the news together. Again, unless it’s not possible, you and your spouse should break the news to the kids at the same time so that you give a consistent message.
- Don’t lie. Don’t tell the kids that you and your spouse still love each other if you can’t stand to be in the same room together. That could lead to weeks of futile hope on their part that you and your spouse will “move through this phase” and resume your marriage.
- Don’t over-explain. The kids may be adults but they aren’t ready to hear all of the intimate details of your split (although they may guess the reasons behind it). Even if the kids ask, it’s often wisest to leave the details a bit murky.
- Don’t blame the kids. If the kids are young adults, make it clear that you weren’t staying married for their sake and that your divorce has nothing to do with them.
Finally, expect there to be a bit of an emotional storm surrounding your decision. You can and will get through this.
Make sure that you find an attorney you are comfortable working with as you, too. As you proceed with your divorce, having someone handle the legalities can make it easier for you to concentrate on the emotional process.