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How to tell your children you are divorcing

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a challenging reality, and breaking the news to your children requires careful consideration, honesty and sensitivity. This truth remains whether your children are toddlers or grown with kids of their own.

Tailoring the conversation to the age of your children ensures they comprehend the situation and feel supported.

Preschool and Early Elementary Age (2-8 years)

For younger children, simplicity is key. Use age-appropriate language and focus on reassuring them that both parents still love them. Emphasize that the divorce is not their fault and that you will always be there to take care of them. Maintain a sense of routine to provide stability during this change.

Late elementary and middle school age (9-13 years)

Older children can grasp more complex explanations. Be honest about the decision, but avoid sharing unnecessary details. Reassure them of your ongoing love and involvement in their lives. Encourage open communication, allowing them to express their feelings. Reiterate that the divorce is not a reflection of their worth.

High school age (14-18 years)

Teenagers can handle more detailed discussions. Be straightforward about the reasons while emphasizing your commitment to their well-being. Allow them to participate in decisions that affect their lives, fostering a sense of control. Encourage them to express their emotions and maintain open communication throughout the process.

Adult children

For adult children, the approach should be one of respectful transparency. Share the news directly and provide information about the practical aspects of the divorce. Acknowledge their autonomy while expressing your desire for ongoing connection and support.

Key considerations for all ages

No matter how old they are, your divorce will affect your children.

  1. Choose the right time and setting. Select a quiet and private setting to have the conversation. Choose a time when everyone can engage without interruptions, allowing for a focused and supportive atmosphere.

Present a unified front. If possible, both parents should be present to present a united and supportive front. This shows a collaborative effort and emphasizes the ongoing commitment to co-parenting.

Emphasize love and support. Reassure your children that your love for them remains constant. Emphasize your commitment to supporting them emotionally and practically throughout the divorce process.

Allow emotional expression. Encourage your children to express their emotions and validate their feelings. Let them know it’s okay to feel a range of emotions, and you are there to support them.

Approach the conversation about divorce with care and consideration.

Your composure matters

Maintaining a calm and positive demeanor when sharing news of divorce with your children reassures them, reduces anxiety and fosters an open environment for communication. Positivity during this discussion helps children perceive the situation with greater stability and minimizes potential negative emotional impacts.