5 Tips for Telling Kids You Are Separating or Getting a Divorce

Separation or Divorce is not easy.  What can make it even more difficult is when children are involved.  It is very common for parents to struggle as to how they are going to explain their separation / divorce to their kids.

Here are 5 tips for telling your kids that you are separating / getting a divorce:

(1.) Do not say anything until you are 100% sure you are separating. This may seem obvious, but when people get in the heat of the moment, it is easy to say things prematurely.  It can be very scary and stressful for kids to even hear the word “divorce”, and for those reasons, you don’t want to plant this seed of possibility in their minds.  Once that happens, they will be aware that divorce has crossed your mind and could have ongoing fear that it could be a possibility in the future. When you have decided that you are definitely separating, it is crucial to not say anything to your children until you and your partner have both agreed that you will tell the children.  Avoid putting your partner in the position where they could be caught off guard.

(2.) Maintain a unified front.
Discuss in detail with your partner how you are going to communicate the separation or divorce to your kids, including why you are separating, and what they can expect from the divorce.  It will ease their anxiety if they are getting the same message from both of you.  This does not necessarily mean that you agree on everything, but try your best to stay on the same page. It would also a great idea for both parents to express that the other parent will always be their parent and love them, but that you just don’t get along as a couple.

(3.) Stay away from the blame game.
This can place severe pressure on your kids to feel like they have to take sides.  Just as you wouldn’t want your partner to speak badly of you or tell your kids about your faults that may have lead up to this decision, you shouldn’t do that to them either.  It is very unhealthy for kids to feel like someone is to blame, and this can lead to a breakdown in parent-child relationships that could potentially last a lifetime.  The key is to stay neutral in your language when discussing your partner with your kids.

(4.) Ensure your children know they did not cause this. For their own well-being, kids need to be told directly that they have nothing to do with your decision to divorce.  If you avoid being clear about this, they could carry around the weight of wondering if they are to blame or if they did something wrong to cause this.  Explaining to kids that you grew apart, but that no one is to blame for this would be a good approach to take.  After all, you and your spouse know why you are divorcing.  Your children don’t need to be kept in the loop about every detail.  The less they know, the less they have to worry about.


(5.) Be clear on school and living arrangements
. Questions about school and where they are going to live are guaranteed to come up. The more specific you are about this, the more you can alleviate their stress.  However, it is key to stick to what you tell them and avoid making promises that you are not sure you will be able to keep just to appease them in the short term.

By following these tips, you can help make the painful process of divorce more emotionally comforting for your children.

In Collaborative Divorce, the goal is to reduce the negative effects of your separation or divorce on your children as much as possible. Call Rahul for a FREE 20-minute consultation to discuss why Collaborative Divorce would be a smart choice for your family.

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