Talking to Children About Divorce

When parents decide to divorce, depending on their children’s ages, they may have to talk to their children about their split. While it’s not necessary to discuss the breakup of a marriage to infants, it is necessary to address the issue with older children.

If you are a parent who is on the road to divorce, how you address the breakup with your children will depend on their ages. In any case, there are definitely some “good practices” to keep in mind during this time of transition.

How to Approach the Subject of Divorce

If your children are old enough to understand the concept of divorce, it’s best to sit them down with your spouse and have a calm conversation about it. We do not recommend having this conversation just before they go to school, or right before they go to bed. A better time may be in the late afternoon, early evening, or on a weekend morning.

As you tell them that you’ve decided to divorce, don’t be surprised if your children automatically think the divorce is all their fault, which of course it isn’t. This is a common response from children. Be sure to reassure them that the divorce is not their fault and that you both love them very much.

If your children are young, it may not be necessary to discuss the concept of “divorce” with them at all until they are older to understand it. For example, if the child is a toddler, it may make more sense to say, “Mommy and Daddy are going to be living in different houses” than to say you’re divorcing.

In light of the above, here are some best practices to remember when telling your children about your divorce:

  • If you have children old enough to understand divorce, avoid telling friends, family, neighbors, etc. before telling your children first. Your children could get upset if they find out about your divorce from someone else.
  • Do not post about the divorce on social media and have your children find out that way.
  • Be prepared for your children being emotional. If they get angry or sad, be sensitive of their feelings and reassure them about how much you both love them.
  • After you tell your children, do tell their teachers about the divorce so they can be aware of any behavioral changes that may be exhibited in class.
  • Consider taking your child to therapy if they take the divorce hard.
  • Read some parenting books on divorce to help you handle your children.
  • Avoid discussing the divorce on social media because whatever you say can impact your children, especially if they are 13 or older and on social media themselves.
  • Avoid badmouthing your spouse to your children. This not only makes the divorce harder on them, but it can come across as parental alienation and impact child custody.
  • Finally, avoid discussing the divorce in front of the children. The children should not be privy to motion papers, court dates, financial responsibilities of each parent, or otherwise.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you’re looking for divorce representation, we invite you to contact Samuelson Hause & Samuelson, LLP for a consultation.