Single Parenting – A quick and candid guide to telling your kids it’s over.

I don’t even know how to begin this article. but I know its something I need to share. I also know there are Mommies out there struggling with this, that may not want to reach out for help, for fear of ridicule or judgement but you’re in the right place!

To greatly simplify it; there are 3 major concerns running through a persons mind when faced with a split. Telling the kids, the financial aspects, and future companionship. While I’m no finance expert or love coach, I do consider myself to be a damn good Mother and an even better problem solver. This isn’t the fluffy, pamphlet style advice you may be used to, but it will get the job done while sparing the fragile emotions and self esteem of your Littles. That being said here is The Modern Mommy’s 5 step quick and candid guide to telling your kids it’s over.

So you’ve decided to end your marriage.

I use the term “marriage” rather loosely as more and more couples are choosing to forgo that little certificate and live in a civil union instead.

Canadian couples therapists say with more men and women living together or having kids before marriage, the formality of matrimony doesn’t spring to mind because they are already living like a married couple. – The National Post

Not that it makes the feelings any different. It doesn’t shield you from the guilt of wanting to split up your family because your unhappy with your partner. Or the fear of resentment from your children for turning their lives upside down. It’s every bit as messy. Every bit as terrifying.

Here’s the good news..

You can do it – and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. In 2011, there were 1,527,840 lone-parent families in Canada and that number is expected to grow.

Once you have come to terms with your decision and worked out the details it’s time to tell your kids. This is best done with both parents present, but for an array of reasons that isn’t always feasible. Regardless, it needs to be done. The better you can anticipate their feelings, reactions, and questions, the smoother the talk will go, so it’s best to have a well thought out rhetoric than just spitting in out on the fly.

1. Start by reminding them how much you love them.

I know this sounds cliche but it is paramount to ensuring your kids don’t feel even the slightest bit responsible.

2. Be honest and direct.

No need to beat around the bush but this needs to be done at an age appropriate level. For younger kids, simply stating that Mom and Dad can’t get along anymore will suffice, but your teens may require a more in depth explanation to be satisfied. It is important to have the appropriate amount of transparency, to avoid any dishonesty or deceptiveness from coming back to bite you when they’re older. For a more in-depth look at what your kids will comprehend, by age, see here.

3. Don’t belittle each other

This is especially important when the split may feel one-sided (ie. infidelity, abuse, abandonment). Its not your kids problem, don’t make it their problem. There is a fine line between transparency about the reason for the separation and placing blame for it. Don’t cross that line!

4. Be prepared for a Q&A period 

This may last 5 minutes to 6 months but its your job to be prepared. The most basic questions will most likely be about living arrangements, family events (Birthdays, Graduations, ect..) and holidays, so make sure to have those arrangements set ASAP. Unfortunately, I can assure you that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there will be many more to come. Do your best to take each question as they are asked and answer them to the best of your ability. Also don’t be afraid to admit when you are unsure. Tell your child you need time to find the answer but you will, and make sure to follow through with answering said inquiry when you have a solid response. Don’t leave them hanging! It will discourage them from asking you other questions and the last thing you need is a kink in the communication line.

5. Remind them AGAIN how much you love them.

Do I even really need to say this? What parent wouldn’t want to comfort their children after dropping a bomb like the divorce talk. It is in no way their fault, you both love them unconditionally. And no kids, Mommies and Daddies cannot divorce their children, no matter how much they fight and argue.

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