a young girl reacts negatively to her mother's bad news

How to Discuss Divorce with Kids

Divorce is difficult for anyone involved, but it can be especially hard on children. All parents make mistakes, but don’t let the first time you break the divorce news to your child be one of them.

Have a Plan

The more you have figured out before you tell your child, the better. If you can tell them up front about specific visitation days and times and who will live where, you’re saving your child from a lot of unnecessary confusion. Picking the right time to tell your child is important as well. Definitely don’t tell them before bedtime or before an important test or event. Make sure you have plenty of time for discussion and a few reassuring hugs.

Be Respectful

In an ideal situation, both parents would sit down their child and break the news together. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can remain civil enough to tell your child about your divorce together, more power to you. But even if you find yourself having to deliver the message yourself, it’s important to never play the blame game. No matter what went down in your marriage, the best thing to do is put up a united front for your child. Always keep it respectful.

Be Honest

Just don’t be too honest. You owe your child the truth, but you should never make them feel like they’re in the middle of your mess. Don’t concern your child with the messy details. Instead, remind them of the facts that involve them directly: it’s not their fault and Mommy and Daddy will always love them.

Be Patient

Your child will most likely have lots of questions, and it’s important to listen and comfort them. Reassure them that while there is a major change in the family dynamic going on, your love for them will always stay the same. Whether their reaction is angry or sad, it’s your job as a parent to remain patient; you’re not the only one hurting in this situation.

Last Updated: November 11, 2014