Perhaps your spouse cheated with someone else. Or maybe they neglected your needs during the marriage. These are just a few of the various reasons you might decide to divorce your spouse.
This reason or issue may be at the crux of the situation for you, but what about your kids? While a part of you may think the children deserve the truth, it is important to remember what is best for your children. The specific details of your marriage may not be good for them to know.
Two reasons not to inform children about your relationship details
In short, you should not tell your children the reasons why you and your ex-spouse divorced. You do have to inform your children about the decision to divorce. There are many nuances to how you approach this conversation with your children, but there are two important things to remember:
- Do not involve children with conflict: We have discussed in previous blog posts that while a parents’ divorce does impact children, it is generally the conflict between parents that negatively affects children. Try to keep the conflict with your spouse separate from your children. Informing your children about the reason for the divorce or the perceived shortcomings of the other parent would be involving children in the conflict.
- Laying blame is not the answer: As Psychology Today notes, you and your spouse should establish a narrative that does not assign blame to anyone when you tell your children about the divorce. Even if you do blame your spouse for certain reasons, your children do not need to know them. The truth of why your marriage is ending is not as important as your children and the relationship they have with both you and your spouse.
As long as there is no danger of violence or domestic abuse that puts you and your children at risk, then generally, there is no reason for you to inform your child about the specific reasons for your divorce. When your children mature, they may learn some details or figure them out for themselves. You may not have control over this. However, you should not take it upon yourself to inform your child about “the truth” of why you ended your marriage.
Remember the parent-child relationship
In North Carolina, the child’s best interests are priority number one when establishing a custody agreement. However, in determining the child’s best interests, courts will consider:
- The relationship the child has with each parent
- Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent
A critical part of supporting the parent-child relationship is to avoid badmouthing your ex-spouse. Even if a statement is true – such as the other parent having an affair – telling the children about this issue could seriously hinder the relationship with their other parent. Doing so may also have long-lasting negative effects on your relationship with your children.
Above all, it is important to remember that while your ex-spouse may have hurt your relationship, they are still a parent to your children. Your children do not need to know the details of your relationship during the marriage or even after the divorce.