In a divorce, parents often wonder how to tell the children about the dissolution. This can be particularly difficult if the parents have a strained relationship or if the parents disagree on divorcing. Research shows that coming up with positive ways to talk to kids about divorce and a shared message can significantly impact how the children process and thrive after divorce. A family specialist or other collaborative professional can help parents work on this messaging.
An often forgotten element of divorce, however, is the “story” for everyone else. The children of divorce often take precedence, but divorcing people also may worry about telling their own parents, extended family, friends, or people in the community.
As a collaborative professional, I often have divorcing clients wonder “how can I tell my child’s teacher?” “I am worried about what my mom/sister/grandmother will think if I tell them about the divorce”. Or, “what will the neighbors think?” People also may worry about telling people at work. While it is important to have a shared narrative for the children, it can often be beneficial to have a shared narrative for the greater community as well.
If both spouses work together on messaging, it can avoid confusion and prevent additional animosity resulting from third parties. In collaborative divorce, the professionals often work with clients on the shared narrative to the community. While it is important to have a consistent message, people sometimes differ on the level of information to share. It can also sometimes be difficult to consider not being 100% honest in what is shared. While it is rarely best to lie, keeping certain elements private or just stating “this is not something we are comfortable sharing” can be a good way to have a message, but keep it controlled.
A traditional court process does not typically address this messaging. By making a decision to use a non-adversarial, out-of-court process, such as collaborative law, couples can work together to find more complete and holistic resolutions. This work can lead to better, long lasting resolutions for the individuals and others in their lives.