Imagine your husband coming home and telling you he wants a divorce. He has a new love and will be moving out. Your first inclination may be to go and tell the children that their father is having an affair and will be moving out of the house. But before you do that, think about what you hope to accomplish. If your goal is to tell the children what a no good SOB their father is, you will have succeeded. Most parents will recognize, however, that your gut reaction may not represent you at your best. More important, telling your children that they have a worthless parent will not, in any way, make their lives better. The best thing for them is to be told in a neutral way, by both parents, that there will be a divorce. You need to remember that your children’s needs come first. No matter how you feel at this moment you need to think about the long term consequences for your children. Wait until you can keep your self together and are less emotional.
You need to wait until you have considered what questions the children will inevitably ask and what answers you can give them. Where will I live? Will I get to stay in the house? Will I see both of you? Can I keep my dog with me? They need to understand that this is not their fault and that they had nothing to do with this.
I often hear parents say they will not to lie to their children. In this way, they justify their very selfish answers to their children’s questions. When the children ask, “Why are you getting divorced?”, Mother’s responds, “Because your father found a new girlfriend and is leaving us.” This is not fair to the children. Believe me, if dad has a girlfriend, they will find out soon enough and he will be the bad guy. You should not contribute to your children’s bad feelings for their father. Take the high road and do what is best for the kids.
Think about the timing. While you need to provide them with some advance notice, if you anticipate that you and your spouse will be living together for six months until your son graduates from school, then you don’t need tell the children today. When you tell the children depends upon their age and what they are capable of understanding.
If your children are seeing a therapist, discuss the separation with the therapist. They may often have the best ideas for how to impart this terrible news to the children.