Talking about divorce is rarely easy, especially when it comes to having those conversations with your children. This challenge can become even more complicated when those children are adults themselves. Especially if they are physically separate from the dynamic between you and your spouse that led to the divorce.
As the divorce rate for people age 50 and above increases, so has the need to have these kinds of conversations with adult children. It can be difficult to know where to begin on something like this. We will break down some of the things you can keep in mind as you tackle this challenge.
How to make the conversation easier
When it comes to delivering news of your divorce to your children, there are some things you can do to keep the conversation healthy and productive.
- Approach the conversation with respect. You can expect that this might be a hard conversation, so it is important to be considerate of your child’s feelings. If possible, break the news in person. If you cannot meet in person, the next best choice is a verbal phone call. This is not news you want to give over text or voicemail.
- Tell all your children at the same time. If you have multiple children, try to inform them all at the same time. If this isn’t possible, then try to have the individual conversations one right after the other. Your children deserve to hear this news from you, so you want to limit the chance of someone receiving the news from a sibling before you can sit down with them.
- Be clear about the situation. When breaking the news, it is important for you to be factual, yet compassionate. Try not to tiptoe around the fact that you are getting a divorce – it is better to be clear and avoid confusion. Explain what everyone can expect to happen as you all move forward.
- Avoid assigning blame. Regardless of the circumstances that lead to the divorce, it is important to not put your children in the middle of you and your spouse. Inflammatory language or accusations towards your spouse can alienate your children or cause them to feel like they need to choose sides. Avoiding this altogether will make this process easier on your children.
- Expect strong emotions. It is natural for children to feel strong emotions after they learn their parents are getting divorced. This is no different for adult children. Approach the conversation with a calm mindset so that you can guide the conversation forward in a productive and healthy way.
- Give your children the necessary space to process. Some children will have a million questions. Others will need space and time to process. Make sure that you are meeting your adult children where they are at and giving them the ability to process this big news in a way that they know is best for them.
No matter the circumstances of the divorce, it will likely change your overall family dynamic. Figuring out the ‘new normal’ can be a challenging task but breaking the news of your divorce in a helpful way can start the process off on the right foot and ultimately ease the transition.