Research shows us that it is important for children to have age appropriate information about what is happening and the impact on them. We also know that it is important that the children not be caught in the middle between parents. Talking poorly about the other parent to or in front of your children is harmful and will likely have a long term negative impact on your children and their relationship with you and the other parent.
Talk with your children and be open and honest without disparaging the other parent. Give them the information they need. Ask if they have questions and give them answers as appropriate for their age. They do not need to hear that the other parent is to blame for the break up. It is enough to tell them that you and the other parent are going to separate. Reassure them that they will see both of you, that both of you love them and that it is ok to love both parents. Be sure they know that the end of the marriage is not their fault. This will likely need to be repeated to them over time.
Think about what will concern them – where will I live, what happens to my pet(s), will I stay in my school, what will change and what will stay the same? Address these concerns in terms that they will understand. Consider telling the children together if your relationship would allow this to happen in a positive way.
There are also many resources in Sonoma County to help children deal with this transition. There are programs for children offered through Kids’ Turn of Sonoma County run by The Child Parent Institute (formerly California Parenting Institute) and by Kaiser. Some children may need individual counseling. There is also an abundance of reading material available. One good resource is “What Should We Tell the Children? … Parents’ Guide for Talking About Separation and Divorce.” This is published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.