Once you and your partner have reached a decision about your relationship, and choose to dissolve your marriage, one of the hardest steps is still ahead of you. If you have young children, communicating to them about your divorce in a way that makes them feel safe and loved is incredibly important.
Say it simply. Toddlers and preschoolers do not need to know the subtle nuances of your relationship’s troubled past, or the details of the divorce proceedings. Kids of this age are more focused on how their lives will change. Talk to them about the differences they will see in their daily lives.
Put your anger aside. Some couples part very amicably, but if you and your partner are going through a contentious divorce, please put your feelings of anger away while you are with your young children. They can pick up on that anger and internalize it. Let your children know that they are loved and that you and your partner are working together, as a parenting team, even as things change.
Clarify the new normal. Where are your children going to live? How much time are they going to spend at each residence? Who will drop them off at daycare? Who will pick them up? Be very clear about what their new schedule will look like, and be prepared to constantly repeat the schedule and set expectations every morning so that your children know what their days will look like.
Stick with your routines. Do you have a particular bedtime ritual? Make sure you and your partner both carry on with that ritual in each of your homes. Keep your morning routine the same as well. Keep the fridges stocked with their usual snacks. Maintain the same house rules. Children thrive on consistency.
Let your childcare center know what is happening. Not only do your children’s teachers need to know who is picking up, who is dropping off, and where your children will be living, but they need to know how your children are coping in order to provide support throughout the day.
And, of course, lean on friends, family, and even a therapist for support. If you are feeling optimistic, your optimism will spread to your children.