There are those moments in our life that change us forever. Those moments that we remember so vividly. The sounds. The colors. Tiny details that become a part of us. Moments that we sometimes wish we could wash away from our brains.
One of those is the day my husband and I told our daughter we were divorcing.
She was seven. She still loved Dora the Explorer back then, purple popsicles and dancing in the cold water of the front yard sprinkler.
We had planned it out. Deciding that we would tell her together. We decided on a day and then put it off for two months. Then another. It was something no one wanted to do.
We settled on a weeknight. I think it was a Tuesday. She had eaten rice and beans for dinner, finished her homework of vocabulary words and reading Amelia Bedelia. The time was now.
We all sat on the sofa in the den. All three of our large dogs piled onto the couch too.
He began. "You know your Mommy and I will always love you. That we will always be there for you. That we love you so much."
I continued. "Mommy and Daddy love each other but sometimes even if you love someone, you can't live together. Sometimes it's better for Mommy and Daddy to live in different houses. You'll spend time and live with Mommy and Daddy in both of those houses. You see, Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce."
She stared ahead at both of us. Stone still. And then she began to sob. My stoic child who seldom cried was sobbing. She was angry at us. At life. We took turns holding her and trying to console her. I wish this moment had been different. I wanted to tell her this in a way that took away the pain. But there is no way to break the news of an impending divorce that takes away the pain of the truth. The truth that your family is forever changed, and that your children's life will be altered forever because of that.
Do I have any advice?
According to family therapists, here are tips on how to break the news of a divorce to your children.
Tell your children together. Both you and your spouse need to take part.
Have a plan of what you'll say. Emotions are running high, have at least a general idea of what you'll say.
Help them feel safe. Reassure them that both Mom and Dad still love them. That they will both be in their life.
Remind them-this isn't their fault.
Answer their questions. But don't blame the other spouse or divulge information that they don't need to know. Make the conversation age appropriate.
If you've been through this, I'm sure you recall the moments you broke the news of your divorce to your children.
How did you have this difficult discussion with your children? It's never easy. Please share with us.