1. People & Relationships

How to Talk to Your Child About Divorce

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When to Tell Your Children About Divorce:

Children should be told as soon as the decision to divorce has been made. It is natural for parents to feel anxious and uncertain about how to tell the child/children. This anxiety can cause parents to delay talking to their child/children. If you allow your anxiety to keep you from talking to your child/children, you will only increase their anxiety. The way you choose to tell your child/children about the divorce will set the tone for how your child handles the divorce. If it is at all possible, both parents should talk to the child/children as a family.

What to Tell Your Children About Divorce:

  • Tell them they are not responsible for the divorce.
  • Tell them both parents love them even though one parent will no longer live in the home.
  • Children are curious about what issues caused the divorce, and they will ask. Be ready with an age appropriate response.
  • Explain to them who they will live with, how often they will see the other parent and fill them in on any changes that might take place due to the divorce.
  • Let them know that you will be there to answer any questions they have in the future and they should feel free to come to you with concerns or fears they have.
  • What to do After Telling Your Children About Divorce:

    • Continue to reassure them by showing them love and putting them first. This will help alleviate any fear and sadness they feel.
    • Offer them stability by keeping change to a minimum, making sure they spend enough time with both parents and sticking to a daily routine that suits their needs.
    • Encourage them to maintain close relationships with their friends, continue participating in sports and school activities. Do everything possible to help them remain children with only childish concerns.

    What You Should Never do During Divorce:

    • Never allow your emotions to get in the way of doing and saying what is in your child’s best interest.
    • Don’t allow your grief to interfere with the time you spend with your children. In spite of your sadness, maintain a high level of contact with them.
    • Don’t allow resentment toward your ex to bleed over into your relationship with your children.
    • Never shut your children out when they try to discuss the divorce and their feelings with you. No matter how uncomfortable you feel discussing the issues, you must be willing to do so.

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