Explaining divorce to your children

Divorce takes an emotional toll on you and your spouse, regardless of how the marriage ends. Whether it is through betrayal, abuse or just a decision to move on, it affects everyone around you. Perhaps no party is more vulnerable to the complicated divorce process than your children.

You can help your children get through the process unscathed emotionally if you are prepared. The first step is to tell your children about the split in the right way.

Work as a team

Although your marriage is ending, your children bind you together for life. This means that in some ways, you will have to remain a team and work together. Experts recommend that you both sit down with your children and tell them about the divorce together to show them that you are united in your love for them.

Set up a discussion plan

This is not a situation where you want to just wing it. Think of what questions they may have and how you plan to answer them. Allow the discussion to evolve as necessary, but be prepared with answers to some of the tougher questions.

Do not assign blame

Keep it as simple as possible with your kids, even if you are not giving them the whole truth. Do not go into whose fault the divorce is or the details of what happened. Choose words very carefully and use blame-free, neutral language when possible. Children are often like their parents, and when one parent puts down another, kids internalize and see it as an attack on them.

Know appropriate age development

How you tell your children about the divorce has a lot to do with how old they are. Know the different developmental stages and create your discussion plan around them.

If you are facing a divorce and are unsure about how to tell your kids or make sure they are protected, we encourage you to discuss your options with an attorney immediately.

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