Speaking to Your Children About Divorce

Discussing your decision to separate/divorce with your children can be one of the most difficult conversations to ever have. During a time of great guilt and conflicting emotions it can be incredibly difficult to find the right way to tell your children.

A general suggestion for parents is to be thoughtful and compassionate when speaking to your children about your decision to divorce. Provide them with plenty of reassurance, additional quality time, hugs, and attention.

Here are some additional tips for speaking to your children about divorce:


 Hearing from both parents shows dedication, unity, creates less confusion, and decreases the need for a child to choose sides.

(Examples: "Both mom and dad decided," "We both aren't happy together," "We want tension to end," “Your mom and I feel that this will be the best for our family).


Blame results in resentment, children feeling like they need to choose sides, and a need for loyalty or betrayal.

*The harsh truth is less important than reassurance, support, and unity.
*It's an "adult decision"


Explaining the meaning of separation and/or divorce in an age-appropriate manner provides predictability and clarification.

Ex. Time apart, a break, living separately, who will move out.


Children are incredibly resilient and thrive with consistency and predictability in many aspects of development. Describing the things that will stay the same, as well as the things that will change can provide predictability and decrease anxiety. Children need to know how the changes will affect them.

Changes may include: living situation, schools, and activities.

Some things that may stay the same include: Love from both of parents, who will care for the (meals etc.), school, friends, activities.


Don't make promises about unknown, it’s ok not to know.


 By recognizing and validating a child’s feelings and concerns you send the message that their feelings matter, are heard, understood, and accepted. It also invites children to continue to share.

Ex. “I can understand why you’re mad,” “I know you’re sad” “I’m get why you’re scared”


Check in with children a little later. Give the kids time to process information and schedule a follow up talk to answer questions, address concerns or simply share feelings. Again, predictability is key.

A woman hugging a child with text " speaking to your children about divorce ".

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