Your children are teens, and you know that they’re old enough to understand what a divorce is and why they happen. At the same time, you never wanted to put them through one.
When you decided that a divorce was necessary, you had hoped to put it off until your children were 18, since it would help minimize issues with custody or child support. That isn’t a possibility, though, so what can you do? How do you tell them about the divorce and the changes that are going to happen?
Be ready to chat with your teen about divorce
Teens are pretty perceptive, so there’s a chance that they already know that something’s not quite right at home. They may not be surprised when you come to talk to them about the divorce, or they might be surprised that the conflicts have gotten bad enough to necessitate one.
You know your children best, so sit down with them at a time when they’re feeling calm and comfortable at home, not rushed or anxious about something. Then, bring up the topic and tell them that you’ve set time aside to answer their questions and get feedback from them.
Don’t be surprised if your children act out in anger or frustration. Some may be sad or upset. Others may seem completely fine but internally be fearful of the changes that could come next.
It’s your job to make sure they feel comfortable as much of the time as they can. Explain what you expect will happen. If you can have a conversation with your spouse and them together, the combined front could be beneficial.
Keep your kids in the loop to prevent anxiety
It is helpful for you to keep your children informed during the divorce and to get their input on what they want to see happen, so they don’t have as much anxiety. If you’re going to move, explain when and where. If you’re doing split custody, explain why and how. Doing these things can help your children prepare in advance for changes, so they have less stress and know that you’re there to support them.