Telling the Children You Are Getting Divorced

Telling a child that you and your spouse are getting a divorce can be difficult, but it must be done in order for the child to begin to accept this dramatic change.

Research shows that divorce can be traumatic for a child. It also shows that a child brought up in tension-filled environment suffers more than a child brought up in the home of a divorced parent where there is no tension. It only makes sense that if the child sees the parents constantly abusing each other, whether verbally or physically, the child will ultimately suffer.

It is possible for a child to thrive in a divorced home, provided they are under the right parental conditions. One of the first ways that a parent can help the child is by telling them about the divorce. Remember, children of all ages will be affected by their parents getting a divorce, so it is important to tell them no matter what their age. Following are tips on telling children that you are getting divorced.
No matter what age the child is, it is important that the parents tell the child what is going on.

Here are some tips on telling the child/children that you are getting divorced.

  • If there is a parent that has played the main parenting role, then it would be more logical for that parent to break the news to the child. The news of something so traumatic should come from the parent that the child feels most comfortable with.
  • It is very important that no blame be assigned to either parent for the separation; this may indirectly give the child a reason to choose sides. It is unhealthy for the child to feel that there is a good and bad parent.
  • As the parent, you must explain to the child that they are not to blame for the divorce; that the divorce is between the parents and not the child and parents. If this is explained correctly then the child will also realize that if they are not responsible for the divorce, then they cannot be responsible for their parents getting back together.
  • Don't tell your children that you are going to get a divorce unless you and your spouse are absolutely certain that the decision is final.
  • It is important that you tell your children about the divorce when you can be together for a while. A nonschool day would probably be the most preferred time, because they are going to feel very alone and they will need someone there to feel a sense of safety and security.
  • After you have told them the news, you may want to give them some idea what they should expect in the future. They have just received news about the divorce so it's important not to get into too much detail. A child may want to know about school arrangements or they may want to know about their future living arrangements.
  • When children ask "why?" they are usually asking “why is this happening to me?”,  not  “why are you getting a divorce?”. Initially, children do not need to know your reasons. There is no need to provide details.
  • Be sure to ask them if they have any questions about anything. They may have a number of questions but will not ask them right away. Continue to ask if they have questions throughout the divorce process.

Telling your children about your divorce can be very difficult, but it absolutely must to be done. Children need to know what is going on and what is going to happen to them. Remember that children can thrive in a divorced home provided that both parents are honest with the then, and that the parents are there whenever the children need them.