How to talk to a child about divorce

Your children should know their parents are having a divorce. After all, divorce will impact their lives just as much as it will yours.

There’s often no easy way to discuss a divorce. It likely wasn’t an easy topic to have with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, so it’s only realistic you’ll have similar difficulties when you talk to your children – but, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what you should keep in mind when talking to your children about the future:

Consider your children’s understanding of divorce

Children react to the news differently depending on their age. Some children aren’t old enough to understand what divorce means. You can try explaining to them what divorce is, but it may, ultimately, go over their heads.

An adult child, however, will likely have a strong understanding of divorce. This can affect them greatly or not at all, but their age shouldn’t change the fact that they likely should know about the divorce.

Consider what you say about the divorce

Divorce can happen after a mutual agreement or because of marital difficulties. You likely don’t want to reveal all the details about why you’re having a divorce, but some details are important for your children to know, such as that a divorce is happening.

Why divorce is happening may be less important than how will the divorce affect the family. You may instead talk about what’ll change after the divorce: Will your child change schools? Will they still attend religious functions? Who will your child see more often?

Consider when to talk to your child

If your child is young, then talking to them about your divorce just before school or bed may put them into an awkward situation where they can’t go to you for support. You may need to plan when you talk to your child and who’s involved during the talk. Talking as a family and during a time when a child can ask questions may be the best thing for them.

If you’re planning a divorce, you may need to know your legal rights when discussing important matters like child custody or asset division.

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