How Do We Tell Our Children That We Are Getting a Divorce? 

The conversation about divorce is undoubtedly one of the most challenging that you will face as a parent.

As a family law attorney who has represented clients in thousands of cases and heard countless stories, I understand the gravity of this moment and the lifelong impact it can have on your children.

One of the initial inquiries I make when guiding parents through this conversation revolves around their children’s emotional support systems.  Whether it is marriage counseling or counseling for the children themselves, seeking guidance from professionals who understand the family dynamics can provide invaluable insights.  However, if such support systems are not in place, I want to know the children’s ages, what they might already know about a potential divorce/separation, and their emotional readiness for the significant change that is about to happen in their lives.

Age-Appropriate Advice 

Providing age-appropriate advice is pivotal in these discussions. For younger children, it often revolves around reassuring them that while their living situation may change, both parents will continue to be present in their lives.  This helps to maintain a sense of stability. Assuring them that both parents will collaborate to prioritize their well-being can help alleviate their concerns.

It is important that both parents are present during this conversation.  It ensures a unified message and prevents the confusion or fear which may stem from receiving conflicting information. Timing is also crucial. Avoid having this conversation during moments when children are rushing off to school or engaged in other activities. Choose a time when there is room for a calm and uninterrupted conversation, possibly on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning.

Prepare for Questions

There will be questions that the children will have so you will need to be prepared to answer them.  I recommend that you reiterate to them that they will continue to have time with both parents and assure them that their concerns will be heard and valued during the divorce process. 

Some of your children’s questions might not have immediate answers, especially those concerning practical changes like moving or changing schools. In such cases, it is vital to be honest, yet reassure them that plans are being considered and that their well-being is a priority.

Ultimately, the key takeaway from this emotionally charged conversation is the need for sensitivity. Recognizing that this event will shape your children’s lives forever underscores the importance of handling it correctly.  Countless individuals harbor scars from their own parents’ divorce, emphasizing the significance of ensuring a smoother transition for their children. It is a moment that demands empathy, understanding, and an unwavering commitment to safeguarding the emotional well-being of the children involved.

As you navigate this challenging terrain, the hope remains that with thoughtful preparation and compassionate communication, you can mitigate the impact of this life-altering event and foster an environment where your children feel supported and understood amidst these changes.