3 tips for introducing divorce to your children

It’s not always easy to bring up a change that is going to affect your children’s lives. Whether they’re toddlers or adults, explaining that you and their other parent will be separating and going your own ways can be a tough pill for them to swallow.

It is normal to see some children grieve the loss of that relationship and life as they knew it. Others will be angry or frustrated. Some may even be happy.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to introduce the divorce to your children and to explain what that means for them in the future. Here are three tips for bringing up this sensitive subject.

  1. Stick to the facts

Unless you have an older child who is asking for more details, the truth is that you should stick to the facts. Explain that you and your spouse will separate and that you expect a divorce in the future. Be clear about needing to make changes such as setting up a custody schedule or moving to a new home.

At this point, stick to the facts you know, and tell your child that you’ll make sure they have all the information they need to navigate these changes.

  1. Choose a good time for the conversation

Another thing to do is to choose the right time to have a conversation about divorce. Don’t wait until your children are tired or until you’re frustrated to bring up what’s going to happen. Choose a time when everyone feels calm and relaxed, since this can be an upsetting topic.

  1. Introduce the divorce with the other parent present

Some children won’t want to listen to just one parent about the divorce. Instead, see if your spouse will sit down with you and your children to discuss the divorce and what that may mean for them. Before doing this, make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page about what you are going to say and how you’ll answer any questions that your children have.

The topic of a divorce can be scary for children, and it may be upsetting. Prepare for them to have an emotional reaction and to offer your support.

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Have more questions about divorce? Check out our Divorce Q&A.