Telling your kids about your planned separation or divorce can seem like a daunting task, but it needs to be done. Don't hide it or try to lie about it. Just tell them.
There comes a time in some marriages when the benefits of separation out weigh the benefits of staying together. Separation is not always the best answer either, but it is often a way to step back and get a clearer picture of whether or not the marriage is worth keeping. It's nothing to be embarrassed about, as love is like a whirlwind and many loving couples often get married and have kids before they even stop to consider if they want to spend the next 40 years with the person in front of them. Separation can help to prove whether or not divorce could be a solution to matrimonial problems, or whether or not you have the determination to strengthen and resolve your marital dysfunctions.
Of course, you are probably well aware of why you are planning on a separation from your partner. The more important question, is what and how do you tell your children?
Many couples are in a state of shock and anxiety from the idea of separation in the first place. Then when you through kids into the mix, the whole thing can seem very intimidating. If you're children are very young, it can seem even more difficult, because as adults, we tend to put ourselves on intellectual pedestals. assuming that our children will not understand what's going on with their parents. Because of this, many parents often wonder if they could get away with not telling their children for a while, or if they might be able to tell them a little white lie until mom and dad have things a bit more straighten out.
I have something to tell you, that you probably won't like to hear, but you need to hear it any way::
IT WONT GET ANY LESS COMPLICATED IF YOU WAIT TO TELL THEM.
In fact, your marriage and your relationship with your children is ten times more likely to get even more complicated if you don't tell them now before things get very weird. Children may be lacking in their life experiences because they are young, but that does not make them stupid. It does not mean they can't understand, and it doesn't mean they are going to handle it better. You can't spare them the pain by trying to hide things or lying about them, and in fact, you will hurt them more by showing them that you don't have any faith in their ability to go through this difficult time with you. On top of that, you really aren't sparing them any pain, you are simply sparing yourself some pain, but only for a while.
Your best option is not to prolong things. Yes, it will be a difficult conversation. Ranked up there somewhere with explaining sex and where babies come from, but it's just another part of life that children are often a part of. When you don't talk with them ASAP, you make it harder for them to understand. They will think they did something wrong, and because you won't want to talk with them, or tell them the truth, they won't feel they can come to you with their feelings. This will continue on as they grow, and your relationship with them will be strained for a very long time. This is the last thing you or they need.
Don't think that because you are older that you can get away with lying to them. Children have great lie detectors built in, and even if they aren't sure what you are lying about, they will know you are lying, and once they find out what it's about, you will pay for it. Which will only cause more strain on your marriage. This is a time when you should be focused on trying to figure out if your marriage can last, or if you should let it fall apart and move on to other options. You don't want to be fighting your kids along the way.
So how do you tell your children about your plan to separate for a time?
1. Be honest with them
Being honest doesn't mean that you have to share every little problem with them, such as a bedroom problems. Though it does mean that you need to be honest that things are not working, and that you and your partner need to separate to have some alone time to think about things.
2. Explain to them that a separation is not a divorce, but that it could lead to one
Explain to your kids that a separation is what some married couples do when they want to keep the marriage going, but that they know they need some time apart. Be honest and let them know that at the end of the separation it might mean that you two will get divorced, but at this moment that is not for sure. That is why you are trying a separation first.
3. Emphasis that it is not their fault in any way
The hardest part for kids with parents who are separated or divorcing, is that they will think they did something to cause it. Make sure that they understand that it's not because of them, and that you and your partner will do everything you can to make sure they get enough time with each of you.
4. Tell them you need them
This is a very difficult time, and unless you make your children aware of that, they might inadvertently make things more difficult for you. This will be less likely to happen if they know that you need their help.
5. It's okay to be upset
This is a very emotional time. You need to be able to openly express your emotions, just as much as they do. Trying to hide your emotions will only teach them to try and do the same thing, which will leave them lacking in important life skills. Let them know that it's okay to cry, be angry, get upset or want some alone tie. Let them know that you are upset to, and that you need some alone time as well, but that you also need lots of time with them. Cry together.