Telling Your Kids About Divorce

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Co-Parenting Tips, Divorce Tips

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging and emotionally charged experience for everyone involved, especially when it comes to breaking the news to your children. Communicating the decision to divorce requires careful consideration, empathy, and a commitment to supporting your kids through the process. Let’s explore some helpful tips on how to approach this difficult conversation with sensitivity and understanding.

Choose the Right Time and Setting:

  • Timing is crucial when discussing divorce with your children. Choose a time when everyone is calm and can engage in an open conversation without interruptions. It’s not ideal to have this conversation the day before a big test or an important activity. Find a quiet, comfortable setting where your kids feel safe to express their feelings and ask questions.

Present a United Front:

  • If possible, both parents should be present during the conversation. This demonstrates a united front and sends the message that, despite the decision to divorce, you are committed to co-parenting and supporting your children together.

Use Age-Appropriate Language:

  • Tailor your language to the age and maturity level of each child. Be honest and clear but avoid providing excessive details that may be confusing or overwhelming. Remember that children don’t need to know the details behind the reasons you are choosing to divorce. Before providing information ask yourself whether you’re sharing the details because you have a “need to tell” or because your children have a “need to know”.

Assure Them It’s Not Their Fault:

  • Children often internalize the idea that they are somehow responsible for their parents’ divorce. This feeling is often exacerbated when children hear their parents arguing over issues related to them. Reassure them that the decision is about the relationship between the adults and is not a result of anything they did or did not do.

Acknowledge Their Feelings:

  • Expect a range of emotions from your children – confusion, sadness, anger, and even relief. Encourage them to express their feelings without judgment and validate their emotions. Let them know it’s okay to feel a mix of emotions.

Provide Reassurance and Stability:

  • Emphasize your love for your children and reassure them that, despite the changes, your love and support for them will remain constant. Outline any plans for maintaining stability in their lives, such as living arrangements, school, and daily routines.

Be Prepared for Questions:

  • Anticipate that your children will have questions. Answer them honestly and age-appropriately. If you don’t have all the answers, let them know you are there for them and will do your best to navigate the changes together. Often children have questions later, so encourage them to come to you anytime with questions or concerns.

Offer Professional Support:

  • Consider involving a family therapist or counselor to help your children process their emotions and provide a safe space for them to express themselves. Professional support can be beneficial for both the children and the parents during this challenging time.

Breaking the news of divorce to your children is undoubtedly one of the most difficult conversations you will have as a parent. By approaching it with empathy, honesty, and a commitment to supporting your children through the process, you can lay the foundation for open communication and help them navigate the challenges ahead. Remember that every child is unique, and the key is to provide a loving and supportive environment as they adjust to the changes in their family dynamic.

For more information or support, contact divorce Kelly Myers at kelly.myers@firststepsdivorce.com