Tips for Explaining Divorce to Children

Let’s be real … no one ever wants to get a divorce, and this is especially true when there are children involved. Every parent goes into parenthood with the ideal that they will have a happy family forever. And, if that’s not working, people even try to make it work “for the kids.” But when that’s not an option, all you can do is your best to lessen the impact that divorce can have on a child. The first step of mitigating the harm that divorce can do is being responsible about how you tell your children you are planning to get a divorce.

Now, we are not child psychologists, but we have heard tons of tips from the best of the best. The most common advice we have heard? Don’t tell your children you are going to get divorced until you are ready to answer any questions that they may have. Those questions can be some of the following:

Will we be able to stay in our home?

When will we get to see you?

Will we have to change schools?

Why are you getting a divorce?

Is it my fault?

We know that you may not be able to iron out every detail before speaking to your children. You may still be working these out in mediation (or court, or before starting any legal proceedings whatsoever). In fact, your kids may have caught wind of your unhappiness in the marriage before there was ever talk of divorce or steps in that direction. So, we aren’t saying rush the conversation, but we are saying to be the first to break the news to your children before they start making assumptions about what is going on. As a child of divorce, I can say that a responsible dialogue with your children goes a long way.