You’ve probably seen lots of advice out there on how to tell your children about your divorce. Which makes sense. If you have kids with your spouse, they’re the ones who are going to be the most directly impacted by your decision to divorce.
Kids, however, aren’t the only ones who will be affected by your divorce. To some degree or other, your new reality mean changes for just about everyone you know. Friends. Coworkers. Extended family members.
In fact, often the hardest people to tell after your own children is your parents, because the range of responses they might have is unpredictable. Your parents may worry for your emotional health and the welfare of your children. They may feel responsible, both emotionally and financially, for you in ways they haven’t been in years. If they liked your spouse, they might express sadness over losing that relationship. If they didn’t like them, it’s possible you might even get a backhanded “I told you so.”
Bottom line? This conversation can be tricky and difficult. That’s why we decided to put together the below post. Read on for guidance and practical help on telling mom and dad about your breakup.
Do’s and Don’ts for Telling Your Parents
Even if you have a good relationship with your parents, revealing your divorce can stir anxiety. You may worry about disappointing them, disrupting family gatherings and traditions, or facing judgment for your decision. It’s important to get a handle on these feelings before you break the news. The stronger you are going into this difficult conversation, the better it will go.
Here are several tips to keep in mind when telling your parents about your decision to divorce.
Do prepare an informal speech.
This talk could be one of the hardest ones you’ve ever had to deliver, and some advance preparation will make it easier. Let them know if the divorce is amicable or antagonistic, so they know what to expect. Speak directly but tactfully. Try not to cast your ex in an unfavorable light, especially if you have children, as your parents will still have to see him or her in the future.
Don’t tell them everything.
Your marital dirty laundry doesn’t have to become their business. Tell them just enough so they understand the main reason for the divorce, and keep the rest private.
Don’t expect them to understand.
Unless your parents have been divorced themselves, they may not understand why you feel divorce is necessary. They may come from a different era when divorce was simply not an option, and they may not understand your choice. Don’t feel pressured or guilty because they come from a different perspective. Show respect for their opinions, but draw firm boundaries around your decision and refuse to take flak for it.
Do give them time to process.
They will need time for their own grieving and adjustment process. They may feel a loss of status by having to tell their friends that their child is divorcing. Your parents may feel powerless to change the pain and upheaval divorce will bring to you and your children. Make allowances for their feelings and perspectives, and remember they will adjust in time, just as you will.
Do assure them about their grandchildren.
When you divorce, they will likely worry whether you are emotionally capable to handle the divorce and the demands of being a newly-single parent. They need to know the plan you have in place for managing their grandkids. This will make the transition easier for your children too.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Divorce is stressful, and your parents’ emotional support can help you weather the storm. If they can help you financially or watch your children, plan a detailed discussion with them where you go over these topics. Tell them exactly what kind of help you need, and they’ll appreciate having a plan of action.