10 tips on how to tell your children about your divorce or separation
We know how hard it can be to talk to your children about your divorce or separation. That’s why we’ve come up with these 10 tips to help you…
1. Think about what your children really want
Here’s some excerpts from Helping Children Understand Divorce by the University of Missouri that could give you a good idea…
“Please remember that I want both of you to be part of my life. I count on my Mum and Dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.”
“I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.”
“Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.”
2. Agree with your former partner how and when you’re going to tell your children
Try to put aside the hurt and anger that you may be feeling. That way you can make decisions together about when and what to tell them.
3. Tell your children together
It’s important to give them a reason for your separation or divorce. But that should not be by one parent blaming the other no matter how that parent feels. It’s easy to blame the other party, particularly if a third party is involved. But relationships break down for a variety of reasons, which have occurred usually over a period of time.
4. Don’t start a slanging match in front of your children
Agree to tell them that you’ve decided you no longer love each other but you both still love them.
5. Let your children know that it’s not their fault
It’s important for your children to know that it’s not something they’ve said or done.
6. Tell your children what to expect
Your children will want to know where they’re living and where the parent who’s leaving is going to live. They will want to know how and when they’re going to see both parents. They will need to know right away that they’ll have a good relationship with both parents.
7. Be aware of how your children may react
Some children may show understanding, others relief. But often they will be in tears or angry. They will need time to adjust. They may feel embarrassed and worried about what their friends might say.
8. Encourage your children to ask questions
You need to prepare yourself for your children wanting to talk to you both about what’s going to happen. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t know at that stage but will find out for them.
9. Decide how much information you’re going to give
Consider the ages of your children and, whatever you tell them, be truthful.
10. Help your children to express their feelings and encourage them to be honest
Give reassurance and love. And help them to clear up any misunderstandings.
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