When it comes to kids and divorce, telling them initially can seem like the most difficult thing you will ever have to do. Because they are so precious, to me it almost feels like a knife going through your heart. The last thing you want to do is hurt them, which is what you are doing. That said, you aren’t doing it purposely, it has to be done, and in the long run, you are hopefully making their lives a lot better. In L.J. Burke’s guest post, the divorced dad and author explains how he told his kids about the divorce.
How I Told My Kids We Were Getting Divorced by L.J. Burke
The toughest part of my divorce was telling the kids that their Mom and Dad weren’t going to be together anymore. I avoided and agonized over this inevitable conversation for weeks. You don’t want them finding out through friends or other family members. You owe it to them to break the news as soon as possible. Preferably, both of you will do this together with your happy faces on.
I don’t think there is any perfect way to tell your kids that you’re getting divorced. There are so many factors; age, maturity, any kind of special problems with physical or mental health. There is no easy way to do this. I believe honesty is the most important thing to keep in mind. Don’t give your kids any false sense of hope that you will not break up. There are way too many Disney movies where divorced couples wind up back together in some magical zany way. Shame on you Disney!
This is how it happened to me; It was a nice summer morning and my soon to be ex-wife woke me up after I was sleeping for about three hours. I worked nights and this was my nighttime. We corralled the kids into the kitchen and my ex started the conversation with, “Kids, we have to tell you something.” She stopped and looked at me for what felt like an eternity. “OK, I guess I will do the dirty work,” I thought to myself.
Now I was wide-awake. “There’s no easy way to say this, kids, but your mother and I are getting a divorce.” Both kids smiled at me and told us that they already knew. They both said they heard my soon to be ex having conversations with her divorce lawyer. (Remember, kids are incredible in hearing when they want to.) I went on and told them that we would still be a family; only it will be different now. I wanted to stress how we both loved them, and nobody was going to get abandoned.
I asked if they had any questions and they both said no. They both got up from the table and went on with their regular routines. I wasn’t sure what to think of this. My stomach was still in a knot, and I felt horrible. My ex just continued to pace and really didn’t say all that much. I realize that wasn’t the perfect way to break the news to my kids, but it could have gone much worse.
If you really have no idea how to break the news to your kids, I would suggest you go to a family therapist. Also, it would probably be a good idea for the kids to see a therapist at this very confusing and often difficult time. Make sure you reassure your kids often that you both still love them very much and will do everything in your power to make this process as painless as possible. Do this often through the divorce process. Protecting your kids is priority one!
L.J. Burke is the author of his new book, “Divorced Dad: Kids are Forever, Wives are Not.” Burke wrote this book looking back at his divorce with clarity, seeing what he did wrong and what he did right during this tough time. It is his sincere hope that if you are contemplating, going through or have gone through a divorce, his book will help you through this very tough time. Burke is a Police Sergeant in a major metropolitan police department. The father of his two teenage boys, Burke recently remarried and is enjoying life with his new blended family. Click here to learn more and buy the book.