Telling the Children

Discuss how, when and what you will tell the children with your partner/spouse before talking with the children.

a.        ONLY discuss divorce/separation unless you are absolutely certain that it will happen.

2. If possible, both parents should be present when telling the children.

3. Remain calm, communicate a joint message and avoid blaming.

a.        Assure children that their relationship with BOTH parents will continue.

b.        Be clear about the finality of the divorce.

c.        For younger children, limit discussion to the most important/immediate issues.

4. Provide a general reason for what is happening without going into inappropriate details.

a.        The “whole truth” is not appropriate at any age.

5. Provide specific details about what children can expect in the future.

a.        Talk about what will change; remain the same, and what still needs to be figured out.

6. Provide specific details about the parent who is leaving the home.

a.        Talk about when it will occur, where he/she will live, and how often the children will spend time with that parent.

7. Assure children your love is unconditional.

a.        Say, “I love you,” often.

b.        Repeatedly tell them that they are not to blame for the divorce.

c.        Demonstrate love through actions as well as words – give lots of hugs, affection and time.

d.        Don’t over promise; make short-term commitments you know you can honor.

8. Be sensitive to how your children react to this news.

a.        Remember that divorce is confusing for children.

b.        Be as understanding of no reaction as you would to an angry or tearful reaction.

c.        Repeatedly tell your children that you are sorry the divorce is so difficult for them.

9. Welcome questions and ask about fears and concerns.

a.        Make space for your children to express sorrow and anger about the divorce.

b.        Really listen so they feel understood.

c.        Be available to talk about the transition on an on-going basis.

d.        If you don’t know, say so.

10. Give children time to adjust.

a.        Be patient.

b.        Say, “Thank you” and that you are proud of them for adjusting to a difficult situation.

c.        Be a steady presence in their lives.

Source: Jennifer Wolf, Tell Your Children About Divorce – Guide.