How do you tell your kids about your divorce?

Divorce is never an easy solution to ongoing marital discord, but unfortunately it’s a fact of life for many families. And often, the people who least understand why it’s happening – the kids – are the ones who suffer the most. There’s a certain amount of grief and loss associated with a parental break-up, so it’s critical to handle this topic with patience and great care. Some of our readers who have experienced divorce shared below how they approached their children with this life-changing news.
Kekua Kobashigawa

Kekua Kobashigawa

Kekua Kobashigawa, Founder of HBIC Development.

Give Them Complete Honesty

My children were 4 and 6 years old when my ex and I divorced. I gave them complete honesty, but age appropriately. I told them that their father was going to live somewhere else; I told them that grown-ups get married because they think they can love each other forever, but sometimes they’re wrong, and mom and dad didn’t love each other anymore; and, finally, I told them that I would always always always be their mommy, no matter what, and that it was impossible for me to not love them anymore because they’re my babies.

Our Love For You Will Not Change

Mom and Dad will no longer be married, but that does not change our love for you and our commitment to our family as your parents.

We have so much respect, gratitude, and love for our family and all that we have accomplished in our marriage that we look forward to creating what will be our new family dynamic focused on our relationship as co-parents.

This is an incredibly challenging time for our family, and we will be focused on you—your priorities, health, and wellness with transparency and inclusion.

Alicia Robertson

Alicia Robertson

Alicia Robertson is an author, speaker, and trained life and divorce coach, who helps recently separated women through her business, Lemonade Life.

Ashley Dolan

Ashley Dolan

Ashley Dolan, Founder of Vegiac.

Provided Simple and Honest Answers and Explanations Based On Their Age

I told them when I was sure that I had made a decision and prepared practical details of family life in the new situation. Practical details concern guardianship, spending time with the other parent, and organizing daily life.

I explained to the children what was happening honestly and adapted to their age. My children are very intuitive and if they don’t get an honest explanation, they make up different scenarios themselves. The children’s fantasies usually stem from their guilt for the divorce (“I didn’t eat enough, then they quarreled, and then Dad left. If I was good, that wouldn’t have happened.”)

I had to choose carefully the time when I would share the news. The decision to divorce was a shock for the children, although they had previously seen quarrels and nervousness in the house. It was important to me that they had enough time to accept this important news. I chose the moment to tell the children when they didn’t have many obligations in the next few days, so that they could ask questions, get answers and go through difficult emotions.

I provided simple and honest answers to the children’s questions. If I didn’t know something or I wasn’t sure, I told the children the same. I didn’t promise the kids something I knew I couldn’t fulfill. There is no child who, no matter what the relationship between the parents was, does not want the parents to be together again. I did not promise the children that it would happen so that the children would not suffer. Some facts and interpretations are not for children’s ears: who cheated when, who is guilty, who is selfish, etc.

Announcing the decision was just the beginning and is often not the hardest part, even though I was most afraid of it. In the process of accepting and adapting to new life circumstances, many difficulties awaited us. I armed myself with patience and solved problems one by one, as they came along. I provided support for myself and the children from my circle of friends, at their school, and sought the help of experts because I was worried about the behavior of the children.

Dad & Mom Might Not Be Married Anymore But We Would Still Be A Family

When we shared the news of our divorce, my ex and I sat the children down together and explained that while we mom and dad might be getting a divorce, we would still be a family. We walked them through how their lives were going to remain the same and in what ways they would change.

Alex Beattie

Alex Beattie

Alex Beattie, Co-Founder, Divide & Thrive.

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