How to Tell Kids About Divorce

By Carlos Gamino

As a parent, divorcing your spouse is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do – next to breaking the news to your children. Here’s how to tell kids about divorce and how to encourage them to share their feelings.

How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Leading psychologists agree that the vast majority of children can weather the storm of divorce and come out just fine on the other side – but that doesn’t stop parents from worrying about missteps along the way. How you tell your children about your divorce can set the tone for the rest of the process (and beyond), so it’s incredibly important that you approach the situation properly.

With that said, kids of different ages need to be told in different ways. Ideally, though, you and your spouse will sit the whole family down together and break the news – and you’ll both reassure them that you love them no matter what happens. You’ll also tell them that you’ll both be there for them to talk, answer questions and provide comfort.

Related: The effects of divorce on kids

Tips for How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Although we can’t tell you exactly what to say, because you know your children (and how they’ll respond) best, we can give you these guidelines:

  • Plan what you’ll say ahead of time. Don’t hold a spur-of-the-moment family meeting; instead, talk to your spouse about what you’re going to say (and what you’re not going to say), and plan on a response to use if you don’t know the answer to something.
  • Talk to your kids together. If possible – and certainly only in the absence of domestic violence – you and your spouse should sit down with the children together. Presenting a united front now can make things easier on them.
  • Don’t assign blame. Your kids love you both equally, and it hurts them if you blame each other. Don’t point the finger at the other party, no matter who’s at fault for your divorce.
  • Tell your kids – without details – what’s happening. Kids need to know that they’ll be living in two separate homes and that you’ll no longer be married, but they don’t need to hear any grisly details. Those are for adults only, and telling your children why you’re divorcing (outside the fact that you can’t repair your relationship or that you both want different things from your lives) will make them want to take sides; that can be psychologically harmful.
  • Explain that some things will change while others remain the same. Kids are primarily interested in how your divorce will affect them, so tell them what will change and what will remain the same. You can talk about school, where the kids will live, how they’ll be able to see their friends and other issues that matter to them – and above all, let them know your love for them will never change.
  • Reassure your kids. Your kids need to know that you’ll be there for them, no matter what – and now is the best time to tell them.

Related: Keeping your kids out of your divorce

Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin Divorce Attorney?

If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we may be able to help you get the best possible outcome. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to discuss your case – we’ll give you the guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino