If you and your significant other have decided to split, it is best to approach the situation together. This may sound like an impossibility if you and your soon to be ex are bitter, but it is necessary. You have to remember that no matter how angry or hurt you are, your children need both of their parents, even if one is a step-parent. Children deserve an explanation on their level. After all, they did not ask to be put into this situation, and they didn’t ask for mom and dad to fight and turn their entire world upside down.
Explaining the situation to your children will not be an easy task. They will have questions that need answered. These questions may be lead by anger, confusion, and frustration. Both parents should remain calm and compassionate to the children and each other. Children need to know that their parents can get along for their sake. After all, they should be the most important people in your lives.
The first step in this conversation should be between you and your soon to be ex. You need to determine what information you will share with the children and what your plans are for their future. Sometimes, this means pretending that everything is fine for a few days before you approach your children. Having a good plan in place for custody and visitation is a very important factor. Leaving these questions unanswered will lead your children to feel as though one parent is abandoning them.
When you have decided that it is time to approach your children, it is important to shield some information from your children. They do not need to know every detail. They only need to know what is necessary. “Mommy and daddy have decided that they love each other, but they are not in love with each other. We have decided that we are not going to live together anymore because we want each other to be happy and to be able to find someone who will love them the way they deserve. We both love you very much and we will both be here for you no matter what.” When the angry and confused questions begin, there is no set answer. The important thing is not to throw the other parent under the bus.
It is very important to avoid blaming comments. Your children do not need to hear that daddy or mommy is a cheater and liar. They do not need to know about Deborah down the street or Colin that lives two towns over. They do not need to know that mommy or daddy do not know when to come home after work, or that you feel that daddy would rather watch sports at the bar than be home with his family. They are going to be damaged enough by the situation, do not add to it.
Giving your children facts in a loving and censored way will lead to open conversation about how they feel throughout the process. It is very important for both parents to leave the doors of communication open with their children. This split is between you and the other parent, not between the parents and the children. They will feel like the situation is about them, communication between both parents and the children can make the transition easier for everyone.