Host: How should I tell my child or children that we are separating?
John Spiegel: You know I think it can be helpful for parents to choreograph this is in advance together, figure out together what's going to be said and who is going to speak first and that sort of thing. Children are interested to know how this will effect them, so the nuts and bolts are very important. Who is going to move out, when will that happen, what will the children's living schedule be, these are the things of great importance to children understandably.
The thing that children are not interested to know about and which is not appropriate to talk to them about, when you break the news is any kind of blaming. Blaming is something that should go on outside of the children's presence. So, reassurance in its place, reassurance that the parents are going to to continue to work together as a parenting team even though they are not going to be living together, even though they maybe planning to divorce. Those are the things that are important, internal voice is as important as content when you have this important conversation with your children.
Many parents will focus on the first of the two parts of the conversation, they will focus on the part that they are going to say. I tell my clients, Keep in mind that there is a second important part of this conversation which is what happens once you finish talking. If parents can stay relaxed and stay present and take whatever flies as their children responded might be tears, it might be lots of questions, it might be just they get up and walk away. Whatever it is, if the parents can maintain a connection that makes a huge difference.