Unfortunately, divorce has become a common occurrence in modern American families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all marriages end in divorce as of 2009. These statistics indicate that a similar percentage of children will experience the stress and uncertainty of their parents separating every year. This can have an even greater impact on young children who may never have even considered the possibility of living in two different homes.
As a dad, helping your children understand the reality of divorce can become complicated by legal issues, unresolved emotions towards your spouse and anxiety about your own living situation. However, with time, patience and understanding, you can ensure that you remain a committed and loving parent for your children while helping them adjust to this new lifestyle.
Divorce often involves fighting, arguments, yelling and bad feelings between partners, but it's vital to keep this conflict away from your children. Many children feel responsible for their parent's divorce and exposing them to all the ugly details won't help matters. Make sure you conduct yourself civilly around your spouse while shielding children from legal talk, heated arguments and the general negativity that often surrounds divorce.
Depending on the age of your children, they may or may not be aware of your marriage difficulties. Regardless, it's important to present the news of your divorce as delicately as possible without resorting to blame or pettiness. Remind children that you and your partner will always love them, despite your separation.
Once you have broken the news, be prepared to answer a long list of questions. While you should avoid getting into the specifics of why the divorce is happening, you should remain as straightforward as possible regarding practical issues like where you will be living, when you will see your children, holiday schedules, new schools and other lifestyle changes. Don't expect to have all the answers right away – divorce is an ongoing issue that will take you and your children a while to accept.