A Guide to Talking to Your Children About Divorce

Getting divorced is hard enough for adults. But for a child, it’s particularly challenging to understand and cope with. Even while dealing with how to handle child support, parenting time, and legal issues involved in child custody, how to handle your child’s emotions may be the most challenging part of the divorce.

You want to spare your children but you can’t make your divorce completely stress-free for them. The way you communicate with your children before, during, and after the divorce will help them make it through this challenging, emotional challenge with hopes of a good relationship with both parents.

We understand divorce is hard, and it can be even harder on the children. Here we’ll guide you on some ways to help you talk to your children about divorce. We hope this will help you break the news in a kind, gentle manner. 

Breaking the News

More likely than not, by the time you decide to tell your child or children about the upcoming divorce, you have already gotten used to the idea yourself. This news is going to upset your children even if it’s not a surprise for them. The best way would be to break the news together with your spouse so that you can reassure your child that you love them, the divorce has nothing to do with your relationship with them, and you can answer questions they may have together.

Choosing a quiet place is the best option, maybe a private venue or even doing it at home, but leave plenty of time for questions. Early morning or afternoon on a weekend would be the best time to break the news. Doing this early in the day will avoid the possibility of them going to bed with the news spinning in their head, and will give them time to process the information and ask questions.

Listen to their Concerns

Even though you are the one breaking the news, you need to make sure your child or children know they can communicate with you and ask questions at any time. Being open and available to your child is paramount during this time. You need to know what they are feeling and thinking during the process of the divorce. 

Make sure you let your child know that you want to hear their questions and concerns. When talking to children about divorce, they may be angry, but they need to know you are there to listen to anything they are feeling.

Keep the Talk Simple

It will take some time for your child to absorb the news about the divorce. You may be tempted to give them a ton of information, but resist the temptation. Try to stick to the basics of what is going on. 

Tell them you and your spouse still love them very much and will be there for them, even if you aren’t living in the same house. Don’t go into lengthy details with young children about visitation. You can go over this and who the children will live with as the time gets closer. 

Put Yourself in Their Place

Even though divorce may genuinely be the best thing for everyone in the family at this point, don’t expect your children to feel the same way you do. Your child doesn’t have a choice in the decision, and this news will shake the core of their security at the very least.

You may have had an unhappy marriage, but your children may prefer to keep the family together anyway. Your child is most likely thinking about how the divorce will affect their life, no matter if they are young children or teenagers. It’s not unusual for children to feel this way because they are thinking appropriately for their age group. 

Young children and teenagers are trying to figure out how their world will look and how things will work once the divorce is over. They may wonder about things like getting to soccer practice or ballet lessons. These are important things for children to wonder about, so don’t dismiss their concerns or minimize them.

Reassure Your Child

Many young children get into their heads something they did was the cause of the divorce. They want to try and fix whatever it was that caused the problem. You need to reassure them often this was a grownup decision, not their fault, and does not change your love for them in any way.

Don’t badger your child but do make sure you let them know you are open to questions. You need to tell them they are free to talk about the divorce whenever they need to and to tell you how they are feeling.

Choose the Right Attorney

The relationship between a lawyer and their client is vital to the success of any legal action. It’s important that a lawyer work with you, not just for you. 

Attorney Hunter Fowler has provided legal services to many families in your situation and will help you work through every detail of your divorce to ensure the outcome is what you want and need for yourself and your family.