How to Break the News About Divorce to your School-aged Child


There is no one right way to deal with issues relating to divorce and children. Depending on the age of your children, the problems that led to your breakup and the current relationship between you and your former partner, you may be able to discuss the situation and defuse worries that your children may have about potential changes in their lives. Here are some of the most useful strategies for breaking the news of your divorce to your children.

Keep Things Simple for Younger Children

Children in elementary school may need less time for explanations and discussions and may take longer to understand the concept of divorce. Keeping your explanations practical and straightforward can often provide these children with the best explanation. It is also helpful to remind children that both parents love them and that they will be cared for during and after the divorce is final.




Set Aside Enough Time for Older Children

Older children are likely to have strong reactions to the news. Allowing enough time for them to express their feelings and to ask any questions they may have can help you deal with the issues they are feeling towards the divorce.




Present a United Front

If possible, invite your former spouse or partner to break the news to your children with you. By planning a joint meeting that includes all members of the family unit, you can avoid blame issues and ensure that all children hear the news about the divorce at the same time. This can help you prevent miscommunications that could cause problems down the line.



Keep Things Positive

Fear of abandonment and worry about the future are two of the most prominent issues associated with children and divorce. Making a real effort to present the divorce in a positive way can help your kids feel more hopeful and optimistic about the upcoming changes in their lives.



Offer Practical Information

Focusing on how the divorce will affect your children in both the short and long term can provide them with an added sense of security and confidence. Most kids will ask practical questions that may include some or all of the following:


  • Will I be able to attend the same school?
  • Who will I stay with and where will I live?
  • Will I be able to visit the other parent?
  • Can I still go to summer camp?
  • Will I still see both parents?
  • Will I have two houses and two bedrooms?

You may also be asked why you and your partner are splitting up and if you still love each other. Be as honest as possible when answering these questions. Keeping your focus on practical questions, however, can be more useful when addressing issues related to divorce and children.

Divorce is rarely an easy process. Taking time out to break the news gently to your children can prepare them for upcoming changes and can ensure the most comfortable transition during this stressful time. By implementing these helpful hints, you can ensure that your children are as confident and optimistic as possible during and after your divorce.


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