How to Tell Your Children about Divorce

How to Tell Your Children about Divorce

by Jason Deines

in Child Custody and CoParenting, Featured

Divorce is troublesome enough but explaining it to your children in a manner that they will understand is even more problematic. The last thing children ever want to hear is, “Your mom and dad are getting a divorce.”

Children of all ages require structure, routine and security in order to grow up healthy and happy. Divorce will make parenting much more difficult but properly explaining to your children what is happening, even though they might not fully understand, will benefit them.

Telling your children about divorce requires patience, timing and love. They will have many fears and questions. Will they get to see both parents? Will they be changing schools? Will they see their friends and family? To make matters worse many children feel if they would have been “better” maybe their parents would not be divorcing. Addressing your children’s concerns is essential!

Reassure your children that their needs will be met when you tell them about the divorce. If possible, they also need to understand that they will be able to see and spend time with both parents. Try not to get overly detailed but keep the explanation simple and age appropriate. You should never tell your child that you are divorcing because you don’t love your spouse any longer. To a child this can mean that love is conditional and they may fear that they too may lose your love if they fail to meet your expectations.

Key Points

  1. Explain to your children that no matter what happens between you and your spouse that you both love them.
  2. Explain to your children that they are not in any way responsible for the divorce. They will need to be reminded of this point again and again.
  3. Explain that divorce is permanent and as much as they want mom and dad to get back together, it isn’t going to happen.
  4. Explain to your children that they don’t have to choose sides and it is okay to love both parents. The adjustment of moving between homes is very awkward and they might feel guilty for missing the other parent.
  5. Children of all ages can have a difficult time expressing their feelings. Talk to your children and give them the opportunity to tell you what they are feeling and thinking without judging or taking what they say personally. Your children are not alone in the way they feel and it may help them to know that other kids have experienced the same thing.
  6. Fear is a common reaction to divorce. Regularly check with your children to address their fears and concerns.

How you tell your children about divorce and your subsequent actions are critical to ensure your children are able to cope and recover from the divorce process. Children can grow and live healthy happy lives after divorce; however, it is essential that both parents continue to show love towards them and learn to be respectful to one another in their presence.

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