When do you get to tell the kids?
We did not know how to do that. We wanted to make sure we would do it as harmlessly as possible (even though knowing that no matter what we said it was still going to crush them.)
We decided to go see a child therapist to learn the best way to handle it. It was very, very helpful. We learned how to approach it — what to say, and what not to say.
Now came the hard part. We were prepared to tell them, but not prepared at all (if that makes any sense.) We had waited weeks and weeks and weeks to find the perfect moment to announce our divorce. The perfect moment never came. So one morning, when we were all at our best, just enjoying each other, I decided it was the perfect time. Right now. I recall seeing the fear in our eyes, but I knew it was time. I asked all the kids to come sit down on the bed, and we told them.
We had a united front — still looking at each other with tenderness, holding everyone’s hand, being a family and approaching it from a stand-point of togetherness, rather than of him vs. me.
We tried to explain the whys (without going into the details) and how everyone was going to end up being better off.
We talked about how each of them were going to get more attention (this one definitely turned out to be true.)
My oldest son (then 10) just completely shut down. After we told them, he left the house and went for a walk. When he came back saying that he was sad, I took him in my arms, and we cried together. We all had sad hearts, just putting a smile on our faces to make it a little bit less difficult.
My daughter (then 7) was just happy as can be. She thought it was going to be awesome. More one-on-one time with mom and then with dad sounded just fantastic to her (a year and a half later she realizes that it’s not all that she thought it was going to be and is now beginning to regress a little bit. Apparently, this is to be expected, and so we are starting therapy with her this week.)
My other son (then 8) was a bit shock and heartbroken. We all were. But we all were heart broken together. From the beginning, it was clear that we were a family forever and that we were working the hard parts and the good parts together.
So, when do you tell the kids? There is no right moment. You create the moment. Just be prepared — be a team on how you are going to tell them. Their lives are about to change forever. How do you want to handle it?
I highly recommend finding someone to guide you, the two of you. Maybe you cannot get along yet, but for the love of your kids, I pray that you will find the strength to unify for this one moment — a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. This moment defines how they are going to grow from this point forward. Isn’t it worth taking the time to make sure you are doing it in the least harmful way possible?