When you and your spouse decide that a divorce could be the final solution to your marital woes, you may not be sure if you want to talk to your children about it. You may tell yourself that the kids are teenagers, and with everything they’re already going through, it might simply be easier to keep things quiet until the majority of the divorce is resolved. You may think that since you and your spouse work together well despite not wanting to be married any longer, you may be able to come up with a fair parenting plan and custody schedule. As parents of teens, you may think it’s easier to handle your divorce on your own and to let them know the results once mom or dad moves out
The reality is that it’s usually better to talk to them sooner. No child wants to feel like there have been secrets kept from them or that they were completely oblivious to major changes in their lives.
Add to that the sudden change that would come with one parent moving out and a new schedule being doled out for custody, and you can see how teens would easily become upset with that scenario.
The best thing to do is to talk to your kids early and often when you’re planning a divorce. If you and your spouse are civil, that’s even better, because it means that you can both sit down together and talk through the divorce with your children, fielding questions and making sure they understand where you’re coming from when making this serious decision.
Teens are old enough that they’re starting to become independent. They also want to know that they’re trusted. Knowing some of the most sensitive information about their parents, that they’re not happy in their marriage, is something that shows that both parents respect them and believe they’re capable of understanding and adjusting to changes in their lives.
What should you do if your child reacts poorly?
It’s inevitable that some teenagers will lash out, become fearful or have other changes in behavior when they find out that their lives are changing significantly. Most teens will calm down and come around to the idea of those changes, but if your teen struggles, consider contacting a family therapist and taking time to talk to your child about their concerns.