How to tell kids about divorce
Written by Monica Donaldson Stewart

How to tell kids about divorce

Unfortunately, divorce can be an incredibly stressful and highly emotional time for families. Perhaps the most challenging aspect is determining the best time to tell the kids about the divorce.

If you are like most, you’ll have plenty of questions about how to tell kids about divorce. Some of the most common questions are: How much do you tell them? How do I answer any questions? Should parents talk to the children individually or together? Should only one parent tell the kids about the divorce, or should both parents be a part of the conversation?

Make a Plan to Tell Kids About Divorce

Just because you are getting divorced doesn’t mean you aren’t still parents. It’s important to sit down and create a cohesive plan. Make a plan to sit down with the children to explain these upcoming changes and offer support.

Timing is Everything

It’s important to find the right time to have a conversation with the kids. Choose a time and day when there are little to no activities or previous obligations planned. This gives them ample time to process and understand the conversation completely.

Love, Support and Understanding

Divorce can affect kids in some pretty surprising ways. It’s important for children to be reassured that the divorce has absolutely nothing to do with them. When you tell kids about divorce, assure them that it wasn’t caused by anything they’ve said or done. Careful words and respect should be of utmost importance during this conversation.

Telling kids about divorce is going to be emotional enough. You certainly don’t want to add the sordid details of why your marriage has failed to add to their stress. Explain to them in age-appropriate language that they understand. Of course, you wouldn’t explain divorce to your pre-teen in the same language you would for a toddler.

Kids should come away from this conversation, knowing that:

  • You both still love them very much and that this fact hasn’t changed and never will, no matter what
  • You both tried to work things out before deciding to get divorced
  • Regardless of who lives where – you are all still a family
  • Anything and everything they may be feeling – anger, sadness, fear – is okay to feel and completely normal

One of the most common misconceptions parents can have is that it only takes one conversation to tell kids about divorce. Parents should expect to have several conversations with their children about divorce and the ways it may change their lives going forward.

Children may not fully understand or process the information right away. They will need to deal with things in their own time, at their own pace. Never nag children to talk about how they may be feeling. Instead, be encouraging and try to make them comfortable with approaching you when they are ready.

Telling Kids About the Collaborative Process

Parents who choose the collaborative process can avoid adversarial relationships and divorce in a more constructive, peaceful manner. Couples work with collaborative divorce professionals from a variety of fields who can provide support and guidance along the way. Some of those professionals may even be able to speak with the children to give them a voice in the process.

If you have questions about how to tell your kids about divorce, or would like to know more about the collaborative divorce process, contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices today!