The other day I made an offhand remark to a friend about something my soon-to-be-ex-husband had done that I found irritating, to put it mildly. Then I realized that my kiddos were right there with me, and overheard my gah I can’t believe he did that(!) comment.
I paused my conversation and launched into my go-to speech whenever something negative comes up about their dad or anything about our impending divorce. “Girls, this divorce is not your fault ...” I didn’t have a chance to finish as both my daughters rolled their eyes and interrupted, “... and you and Daddy both love us very much.”
Divorce with kids is rough, man, and trying to decide what to tell them, how much to tell them, when to tell them, etc., is no easy decision. Everyone has an opinion, and make no mistake, you will be judged for whatever you decide to do. Because of course you didn’t stay married ‘for the kids,’ so now you’re supposed to be an extra perfect parent. You know, to make up for your inability to stay married.
Anyway. You have the people that say you should be completely transparent and reveal the gory details. Then you have the people that think kids should be left completely unaware of what went down in the marriage to protect them and also it’s none of their business.
I think the best answer is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. I think it is their business, in part, if for no other reason than Mommy and Daddy don’t live together or do that gross kissing thing anymore. They’re going to notice. That said, they really don’t need to know about my inner turmoil or what the straw that broke my marriage’s back was.
No matter how much or how little you decide to reveal to your kids about your divorce, there are three key things that you should tell them.
When you’ve done all that, then snuggle, hug, run, play, eat cookies together, and generally show them that they are wonderful little human beings capable of great joy. The best lesson you can teach by example to your kids after your split with their dad is that their happiness is not dependent on their parents’ marital status.
How much do you think kids need to know about their parents' divorce?
Image via Jenny Erikson