Telling Your Children You’re Divorcing

The hardest conversation you’ll ever have with your children is about your impending divorce. The children’s desire for their families to remain intact is understandable, even if the announcement comes as no surprise to them (for example, if you and your spouse had already separated or have been fighting frequently). Losing a childhood fantasy is heartbreaking. These are the kinds of exchanges that stick in the minds of children for the rest of their lives. Even if there isn’t a foolproof way to share the news, these suggestions can help lessen the blow.

Assemble a cohesive front. Having a family discussion with your children and your soon-to-be ex is a good idea. The divorce should be presented as a mutual decision, and “we” should be used whenever possible to describe the decisions that have been made. Not at this point in the conversation should accusations or animosity be raised. In the end, this is not about you; it’s about your children. In addition, children need to know that their parents are still able to work together as a team to raise and lead them, and that this is still possible.

Please include all members of your household in your message. Having this discussion in front of the whole family and then following up with each child individually is recommended, according to experts. Your older child may be more sensitive to the news of the divorce than your smaller one, so you and your spouse may want to speak to each one of your children separately in order to avoid upsetting them both.

Make a list of your prepared remarks. In this type of conversation, improvisation is not an option. Couples should brainstorm about the most important messages they want their children to receive.

Be ready to answer inquiries. For your children, processing these feelings will take time. As the divorce and separation process progresses, you should anticipate having many more conversations with them. This first meeting acts as a platform for future discussions and queries for both parents and children. As parents, you and your partner should be willing to answer your children’s questions and respond to their emotional needs. Telling them the truth about your knowledge and lack thereof is essential.

Helpful related article: Children Age-by-Age Guide on Divorce’s TransitionAfter a divorce, here are 8 tips for better co-parentingRaise Happy Children as a Divorced Parent