How to discuss divorce with children

It is projected that around 40 percent to 50 percent of married couples will end up getting a divorce, and while it can be a difficult time for everyone involved, many parents are especially worried about the effect it will have on the children. How you discuss divorce with your child can greatly impact their development.

Divorce is always tough and a hard circumstance to overcome. However, every child and situation varies. The impact divorce has on kids varies with different factors such as the child’s age, the environment, levels of support, etc. Every child’s reaction to their parent’s divorce is different, but instilling and teaching good coping mechanisms, as well as taking on those methods yourself can make a world of difference.

The question of when you should tell your child about the divorce is both a complex and difficult task. It is specific to your family’s dynamics and should only occur when both parents are certain a separation will occur. Both parties should have a mutual respect for each other and be able to have a calm and collected conversation, putting aside their differences for the sake of their child. Although divorce can be a long and drawn out process, parents should consider telling the child before they accidentally find out through another family member or friend, or even the child overhearing private conversations between parents. Parents should clear up any misconceptions and follow up immediately if there is any concern the child has learned about the divorce from another party.

Being open, honest, and clear with your child without oversharing is really helpful!

Some tips for discussing divorce include:

  1. Both parents being present while discussing the divorce
  2. Avoid the blame game and focus on what is best for the child
  3. The older the child is the more they will inquire about visitation.  As such, coming up with a plan beforehand is vital.
  4. Assure the child that the divorce is not their fault
  5. Consider the age of the child.  The younger they are, less details are better
  6. Assure the child that they are still loved by both parents