How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

parents talking to kids about divorce (1)

How to Tell Your Kids About Divorce

Divorce is a difficult and emotional process, and one of the hardest parts of it is telling your children about your decision. It’s completely natural to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to approach this conversation. 

Divorce can often feel so heavy, but it doesn’t have to be heavy for those who aren’t directly responsible for the change. During divorce, the kids are the ones who are involuntarily impacted, so, it’s critically important to share the news with careful consideration, care, and endless support.

After coaching hundreds of parents, Heidi has recently authored an e-book and created a detailed video course on how to tell your kids about your divorce including age-appropriate scripts and common FAQs. Most importantly, how to avoid the 5 most common mistakes parents make.

Why it is Important to have a United Plan

Crafting the right conversation with your kids is critical, especially when it comes to heavy and often emotional topics.  With the right approach, language, tone, manner, preparedness, and regulation you can share this news in a curated way that provides the best chance for a positive outcome.  Even if that outcome takes a bit of time to develop.  

Being united as parents is crucial for success, and having an agreed on plan and strategy is the place to start.  There isn’t a magic solution for this, but having the right plan and operating from a place of love for the kids will help you avoid common mistakes and give them the best chance to adapt.  

Preparing to Break the News About Divorce

Before you sit your children down to talk about your divorce, it’s important to have a strategy in place. This strategy involves not only your own emotions but also your relationship with your ex. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Self-care – To communicate from the right place. 
  • Optimize the conversation – plan a good time to have the talk when kids are relaxed, pick the right spot where kids feel safe and be in agreement with your ex about who will say what and how the post-conversation support and care will go.  
  • Remain United – even if you and your ex disagree on certain aspects of your separation. Showing your children that you can still support each other as parents can help ease their worries.  Remember even if you are not husband and wife you are still mom and dad.  
  • Remember that your children are watching your example of navigating a new situation. By handling your divorce with respect, open communication, and empathy, you are teaching your children valuable life skills.
  • Be prepared to reassure your kids that their feelings and emotions are valid and that both parents will support them through this process.  Plan for options to connect after the conversation, and reinforce the family bonds.  

Getting Help and Relying on Your Support System

Seek professional help, such as therapy, counselling, or support groups, if needed, to help you process your own emotions and heal from the end of your relationship.

Not everyone is a gifted communicator, and getting help from professionals is an excellent way to support this conversation.  You also need to rally your own support system at this time, friends and family play an important role is helping you regulate and stay grounded.  

Keeping the Conversation Age Appropriate

When it comes to discussing divorce, it’s important to tailor your conversation based on your child’s age. Here are some guidelines to help you communicate effectively:

  • Adjust your conversation based on your child’s age and level of understanding. Younger children may need simpler explanations, while older kids may require more detailed information.
  • Encourage open communication and understanding. Let your children know that it’s okay to ask questions, express their feelings, and share their concerns.
  • Provide reassurance and support for any negative feelings your child may have, such as sadness, anger, or confusion. Let them know that it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions during this time.
  • Offer reassurance, love, and understanding to your children, emphasizing that your decision to divorce was not their fault and that both parents will continue to love them unconditionally.
  • Tailor your conversation to your child’s feelings and needs, ensuring that they feel heard, valued, and supported throughout the process.

What to Say and How to Say It

Once you’ve prepared yourself emotionally and considered your child’s age and needs, it’s time to have a conversation about your divorce. Here are some key points to help guide your discussion.

Emphasizing Kids’ Feelings

During your conversation, it’s important to emphasize your children’s feelings and emotions. Here are some ways to do so effectively:

  • Communicate reassurance, love, and understanding to your children, assuring them that their emotions are valid and that you are there for support.
  • Ensure open, honest, and age-appropriate conversations, allowing your children to express their feelings without fear of judgment or negative consequences.
  • Reassure your child’s emotions and support them, letting them know that both parents will be there for them, even if in different ways.
  • Provide reassurance, love, and support for any negative feelings your child may have, acknowledging their emotions and providing space for them to process their feelings.
  • Offer reassurance, love, and support for your children, reminding them of your unwavering love and commitment to their well-being.

Assuring Open Communication

During a divorce, it’s essential to maintain open communication with your children, focusing on their feelings and needs. 

Encourage them to express their thoughts and emotions openly and honestly, while ensuring conversations are age-appropriate. Reassure them of your love, support, and commitment to their well-being, and tailor your discussions to address their specific concerns, making sure they feel heard and understood.

Post-Disclosure: Navigating the Aftermath

Once your children have processed the news of your divorce, it’s important to continue supporting them as they navigate the aftermath. Here are some ways to help your children during this time:

Uplifting Children’s Confidence

One of the best ways to support your children during and after a divorce is by uplifting their confidence. Here are some strategies to help boost your child’s mental health:

  • Concentrate on your children’s mental health and stability, providing reassurance, love, and support as they adjust to the new normal.
  • Maintain routines, stability, and reassurance, helping your child feel grounded and secure despite the changes happening around them.
  • Craft a good example of a healing process, support, and reassurance, showing your child that it’s possible to navigate new situations with resilience and strength.
  • Provide reassurance, love, and support, reminding your child of your unconditional love and support throughout this process.
  • Address your child’s feelings, reassurance, and support, letting them know that their emotions are important and that they can always come to you for support.

Maintaining Routines and Stability

In addition to uplifting your child’s mental health, it’s important to maintain routines and stability. Here are some ways to support your child in this aspect:

  • Provide reassurance, love, and support, reminding your child of your unwavering commitment to their well-being.
  • Focus on uplifting your child’s confidence and mental health, showing them that they can thrive despite the changes happening around them.
  • Tailor your conversation, reassurance, and support, ensuring that your child feels heard, understood, and supported throughout the process.
  • Establish strong relationships, support, and love, letting your child know that both parents are there for them, even if in different ways.
  • Concentrate on your child’s mental health and stability, providing reassurance, love, and support as they adjust to the new normal.

How Can Parents Support Themselves During This Time?

While supporting your children during a divorce is crucial, it’s equally important for parents to take care of themselves. Seeking professional help like therapy can aid in processing emotions and navigating co-parenting challenges. 

Demonstrating resilience and maintaining a positive outlook shows your children that happiness is achievable even in tough times. It’s vital to communicate love and reassurance to your children, ensuring they feel supported and understood. 

Establishing a united front with your co-parent in commitment to your child’s well-being is also key. Tailoring your conversations to your child’s needs helps them feel heard and reassured.

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