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How to Tell Your Children About Divorce

Father talking to his son about divorce

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process for everyone involved, especially for children. As a parent, telling your child about the divorce can be one of the hardest conversations you'll ever have. You may worry about how they will react, whether they will feel hurt or angry, or if they will blame themselves for the separation. However, it's important to approach this conversation with sensitivity, honesty, and empathy.

Here are some tips on how to talk to your child about divorce

1. Plan what you want to say

Before you talk to your child about the divorce, take some time to plan what you want to say. It's important to have a clear idea of what you want to communicate and how you want to do it. Think about how you will explain the situation, what language you will use, and what emotions you want to convey. Keep in mind that your child will likely have many questions, so try to anticipate them in advance.

2. Choose an appropriate time and place

Choose a time and place where you can have a private conversation with your child without interruptions. Avoid discussing the divorce when you or your child is feeling upset or stressed. Try to find a time when your child is well-rested and in a calm mood. It's important to create an atmosphere where your child feels safe and supported.

3. Keep it simple

When you're talking to your child about divorce, it's important to keep your language simple and clear. Use age-appropriate language and avoid using technical or legal terms that your child may not understand. Explain the situation in a way that your child can grasp, without overloading them with too much information. Try to be as honest as possible while keeping in mind that you don't need to reveal everything.

Here are a few short examples of how to speak to your child about divorce:

"Sweetheart, mommy and daddy have decided that we won't be living together anymore. This doesn't mean we don't love you, we will always love you, and we will always be your parents. We just won't be living in the same house anymore."

"I know this might be confusing for you, but mommy and daddy have decided to get a divorce. This means we won't be together anymore, but it doesn't mean we won't still be a family. We will still do things together and love you just as much as always."

"I have something important to tell you. Mommy and Daddy have decided to get a divorce. This means we won't be living together anymore, but we will both still be your parents, and we will always be here for you whenever you need us."

4. Be honest, but don't place blame

When you talk to your child about divorce, it's important to be honest about why you and your partner are separating. However, it's equally important not to place blame or speak negatively about your partner in front of your child. Try to focus on the fact that the separation is not your child's fault and that both parents still love and care for them.

5. Listen and validate your child's feelings

After you've explained the situation to your child, be prepared for a range of emotions. Your child may feel sad, angry, confused, or worried. It's important to listen to your child's feelings and validate them. Let them know that it's okay to feel however they're feeling and that you're there to support them.

6. Reassure your child

Your child may worry about how the divorce will affect them and their life. Reassure them that both parents will continue to love and care for them, and that their basic needs will be met. Let them know that they can ask questions or talk to you about their concerns anytime.

7. Seek professional help if needed

Divorce can be a challenging time for everyone involved, and it's important to seek professional help if you or your child is struggling. Consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor who can offer guidance and support during this difficult time.

While telling children about divorce can be a difficult task, it is an important part of helping them understand and cope with the changes that are coming. By being honest, age-appropriate, and supportive, you can help your children through this difficult time and ensure that they feel loved and cared for.

Read how you can create a child-focused parenting plan to include the details that are important to you as parents.

Blog posts and podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

About the Author

Laura Tarcea

Laura is a family mediator dedicated to supporting families through divorce or separation. With a background in Mental Health, Research, Program Development, and a Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution, Laura brings valuable insight and critical knowledge to parents. She strongly believes that a healthy co-parenting relationship will protect children from short-term and long-term damage. As such, Laura is a supporter of out-of-court processes to help equip parents with appropriate tools to succeed in their next chapter.

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