Wondering How to Tell Others About Your Divorce?
A lot of people have trouble with telling people about their impending divorce because they don't want to burden others with their problems. But it's important to share your life with your family, good friends, and members of your social network. They're there for you, and they are a big part of your life.
Some important points to remember are:
- Realize that public announcements, like mass e-mailing or using Twitter, aren't right for everyone. You're best off telling people individually.
- Hold back the embarrassing and private details. Skip past blaming your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Go right to the story.
- Realize how there is not one set way to tell people. Be honest, and realize how people have their own comfort level.
Finding the Right Time to Tell Your Children
You may come up with countless reasons to delay telling your children about your divorce plans. Don't do it. Make sure you tell them before anybody else does. They need to hear the news from you in your own words.
The right time to talk with your children depends on their ages and on the circumstances of your divorce. For example, if your husband announces that he has already filed for divorce and is moving out next week, you should tell the children sooner, not later.
In general, you should develop a very specific plan and have the discussion with your spouse if the two of you can both be on the same page. Consider the following:
- Choose a time and place that works for your children. The best location for most children and families is at home, where it is comfortable and private. A quiet environment is better – minimize distractions by turning off phones (including your cell-phones), the television, and the computer. Put your children first. Make your time during and after the meeting flexible. It is much better for your children if you are available afterwards. This allows your children the opportunity to talk with you and to be with you, if they so desire.
- Older kids may need to know sooner. Preteens and teens are more likely to learn about your divorce plans by overhearing conversations or by coming across divorce-related papers. They're also better at sensing that something isn't right.
- If you have younger toddlers and elementary-age children, avoid telling them about your divorce plans too far ahead of the date. At this young age, children have a different sense of time than adults and older children have. A week can seem like a month, a month can seem like a year, etc. Telling them prematurely risks a lot of anxiety they have over knowing what may change that they don't fully understand.
- If your children are close in age and maturity, telling them all together has benefits of "we're all in this together" and this ends-up being a source of strength to the children.
- Although your children may appear to be coping well, don't assume that they're not having trouble in school or at play or won't have trouble later on. Watch for mood swings or emotional problems. Touch base with teachers and caregivers periodically to find out if they've noticed problems.
- As much as it may seem how no good comes out of breaking the news about divorce to your children, consider some of the benefits. Children often look forward to having parents who don't fight as much anymore, the relief from involvement in parental conflicts, getting more attention from both parents, having two rooms rather than one, feeling stronger and more independent, and the broader exposure through "weekend culture."
Additionally, consider the following when it comes to breaking the news of divorce to your children:
- Leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it.
- Convey one basic message: What happened is between mom and dad and it has nothing to do with what any of the children did or didn't do.
- Keep the question of "why" unanswered. Your children will try to talk you out of it, they'll feel pressured to take sides, but it is important to teach them that marriage is not an open book, but a private matter.
Telling Other Groups of People
- Family: Because your divorce will have the largest direct effect on your immediate family, you need to let them know about it. They may have strong emotions about it, so it's important to not overburden them with your own emotions. Sharing is good, but complaining may be counterproductive.
- Friends: Your friends may have a different take on your divorce than your immediate family. You should tell your close friends, as they'll be most affected by the divorce. Oftentimes, couples have mutual friends who will be particularly affected by a divorce.
- Co-workers: Unless you are particularly close with a co-worker, you shouldn't feel obligated to tell them about your divorce.
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