Tips for Telling Children about Divorce

When you and your spouse decide to get divorced, one of the hardest things you can do is telling your children.

1) Be honest, but engage in age appropriate communication with your children.  A two-year-old and an eleven-year-old process and understand information very differently.  You need to do some research on age-appropriate communication given the age of your children.  The Domestic Relations Court in Mobile, Alabama requires divorcing parents to each undergo a class called Helping Children Cope with Divorce, which has some great tips.  You can learn more about the class here: https://www.lifelinesmobile.org/helping-children-cope-with-divorce

2) Present a united front (if possible).  If it is physically and emotionally safe for you and your children, try to sit them down and speak with them together. Maintain consistency in your messaging between you and your spouse.  If domestic violence is an issue in your relationship, then this may not be an option, and that is OK.  Every family is different, and safety must always be the number one priority.

3) Avoid assigning blame.  If you caught your spouse sexting with a co-worker, your children don’t need to know that.  Those are adult problems.  It is not important or helpful for your children to know whose “fault” the divorce is.  What is important is to communicate to your children that it is not their fault, and you love them and you are a family no matter what.  

4) Explain to your children what will happen next.  Tell your children what will change and what will stay the same.  If one of you is going to go ahead and move out, explain that to your children and what the temporary arrangements are for them to spend time with both of you.  If the children are going to have to move or change schools, you need to prepare them for that too.

5) Reassurance is of utmost importance.  Your children may be confused and scared, and you may be confused and scared too, but remember, you are the adult and they are the child.  It is your responsibility to tell them that, even though this hard, everything is going to be OK.  There may be a lot of uncertainty, but give them what reassurances you can such as that they will still get to see their friends and grandparents, they will still get to participate in their extracurriculars, and above all else, that you love them no matter what.  Your children are counting on you more than ever.