Most people give considerable thought to if, when and how they’re going to tell various people in their lives about their divorce. Of course, telling your children is probably your personal main focus, if you have kids. Then you need to navigate how to tell your parents and other family members, your boss, your friends and people in your social circles.
Remember that your kids will have to do the same thing, and they may lack the social skills or even the communication skills to do it without discomfort. Further, depending on their age, their friends and other kids may not be as supportive as you expect the adults in your life to be when divorce-related news is delivered.
Dealing with reactions from other kids as well as adults
Kids often have little or no filter. Even if they’re not trying to be cruel, they can frighten your child with stories of their parents’ divorce. If your child is the first in their circle of friends with divorced parents, they may feel embarrassed, ashamed or just “different.” Additionally, you can’t always count on adults in their life, from teachers and coaches to grandparents, not to say anything to or in front of your child that will add to their anxiety.
This is why it’s crucial for parents to give their kids (especially younger ones) tools for dealing with telling people when they need to and for processing negative reactions. It’s also important to let them know that they don’t have to answer questions they aren’t comfortable with. Give them a few suggestions for politely but firmly dealing with intrusive questions. You may want to role play with them to reinforce your guidance.
It’s also crucial for your child’s well-being and yours to discuss boundaries. Younger children (and sometimes older ones) don’t always know what is okay to share and what isn’t. It’s important to keep that in mind when you talk to or within earshot of your child about the divorce or your co-parent.
Make sure your child feels comfortable talking to you or your co-parent when someone says or asks something that worries them or makes them feel bad or frightened. If your child feels secure about their life during and after your divorce, they’ll be less likely to be bothered by what others say.
The more amicable and respectful you’re able to keep your divorce, the less stress and upheaval your child will likely feel. Being proactive about the challenges that your child is likely facing can help them navigate this time in healthy ways.