How to Explain Divorce to Children

Year Published: 2021

Once you have made the decision to separate, telling the children of the family about your divorce can be one of the hardest and most emotional tasks. If you are wondering where to start, here are some tips for ensuring that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible and to avoid traumatism that might affect children in the long term.

Tell them together

If possible, it is always a good idea to put on a united front when you speak to children about your separation. It is going to be beneficial for them to see that their parents can still work together for their benefit – start as you mean to go on!

Ensure that they know they are still loved by both of you

This is an obvious point, but it is really important to ensure that the children are aware that you both still love them and the change in circumstances won’t affect this.

Don’t blame each other

Whatever the reason for the relationship breakdown and however tempting it might be, it is important not to distribute blame in front of the children – this conversation should not be used to score points. It is also a good idea to ensure that the children are made aware that they are not to blame for the separation. It is fairly common for children to blame themselves and to carry some guilt which can be detrimental for them emotionally.

If you have an agreed plan, share it with them

If you have already reached an agreement about how you are going to share childcare following the divorce, it may be beneficial to share this with them sooner rather than later so that they know there is a plan in place. The uncertainty of the future is going to be upsetting for everyone, but children are especially sensitive to this. If they know how much time they are going to be spending with each party, then this may help them come to terms with the decision.

Be mindful of age

Clearly, the conversation you have with a four-year-old is going to be very different to the conversation that you have with a teenager and what you say needs to be tailored to the ages of the children involved. Children of any age are going to have questions about the situation, and you should try and find a balance between giving them enough information to answer their questions and protecting them from adult issues.

For more information about what to tell your children about your divorce visit: What to tell the children about your divorce or separation – Family Lives.

If you would like more information about the divorce process or if you would like further guidance on child-related matters, please contact Cheryl Haywood, Associate, on 01260 282314 or email [email protected]

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