More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and 60% of second marriages fail, according to psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland. For married couples having problems, Dr. Michelle Golland recommends attending couple's counseling. "I have seen the most damaged and difficult marriages work out and become stronger and healthier than they ever were in the past," she says.
"All marriages struggle, but if you have children, they deserve to live in a home free of conflict and anger. This will not end when you divorce, but will most likely increase when you separate and divorce. You will still both be the same people who entered into the marriage and will continue your personal dysfunction in your life apart unless you do some personal work in therapy," adds Dr. Golland.
How Moms Can Talk to Kids about Divorce
If you do decide to divorce, Betsy Brown Braun, author of "Just Tell Me What to Say, Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents," gives these tips for sharing the news with your kids:
Wait until you're sure: Children don't do well with mights and maybes -- it's either happening or it isn't. Be sure you are going through with your divorce before you broach the subject.
Tell the news together: Divulging the news as a team removes the possibility of the child hearing different stories from each parent. It also gives your child a first taste of co-parenting to show how Mommy and Daddy agree and can work together.
Choose your time: Stage your talk at a time other than right before bedtime or just before school. Have a plan to spend time with the child after the talk is over. Plan an activity after the discussion that will be a distraction.
Now that you've set the stage, here are ways to keep your message on track:
Be honest: Don't try to shield your child from pain by inventing stories. If your husband has already moved out, don't be tempted to say he's on business. If he's staying in a hotel or at a friend's house, tell the truth.
Keep it simple: Your child does not need to know every minute detail or reason for your decision. Use short phrases to make your point. Mommy and Daddy have decided not to live together in the same house. That means we will each still take care of you, but not in the same house.
Love is confusing: Instead of introducing the concept of love gone bad, explain, "Mommy and I have different feelings for each other." You cannot stress the point enough that you will both continue to love your child regardless of how you feel about each other.
The "why" question: Don't misinterpret when your child asks "why." You might be tempted to explain the whole sordid reason for your breakup. When a young child asks "why," he's really just protesting the news.
No matter how you proceed with the news, be sure to keep these key phrases in your conversation:
Connect with Other Moms about Divorce
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Videos on Plastic Divorce
Divorce and Kids, Part 1
Divorce and Kids, Part 2
Additional Resources for Divorce