The holiday season is upon us, and there are lots of opportunities to create joyous moments with family and friends. However, not everyone is full of tidings of comfort and joy, especially spouses who have really tried to hold their marriage together “for the kids” but now feel that a divorce is inevitable. How do you tell your kids about a major change in their young lives, and when do you tell them? Should you wait until after the holidays when things aren’t so hectic?
The answers will be different depending on how old your children are. For this article I am talking about children who are pre-teens or younger. Through working with many clients as a divorce attorney in Atlanta I have found that the best approach is for mom and dad to sit down together with their children, and beforehand agree on what to say, and how best to say it.
Emotions will naturally want to spill out, including unhelpful ones, so I recommend that both spouses focus on the needs of their children. Kids want security and routine and they will want to know where mom or dad is going to live, and how things will be different.
Before you ask the kids to gather for a family talk, I suggest that you and your spouse decide ahead of time who is going to speak first. Usually this person will be the one who is filing for divorce, but the other spouse should be supportive regardless of how they feel about the breakup. The goal here is to reassure the kids that they will be safe and loved even though the living arrangements are changing. Remember to tell your kids that this is a permanent change so that they don’t hold out hope for a reunion of mom and dad.
If you can hold off on having this courageous conversation until after the holidays, that may work out better for everyone. I am available anytime to talk to you about how to file for a divorce in Georgia and answer any questions you have.