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Divorce: How and when to tell the kids

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A girl hugging her mum
Are you splitting up and don't know how to tell your children?

Follow the advice of Anne Cantelo, author of It's No Big Deal Really: A Parent's Guide to Making Divorce Easy for Children and you can make things as pain-free as possible.


Continued below...


The don'ts

  • Don't approach your children until you're absolutely sure that this is the end - it's not something you want them worrying about unnecessarily
  • Don't assume that because your children are older that they'll not be deeply affected (the reverse is usually true)
  • Don't use the opportunity to get your side of the argument across to your children or paint your spouse as the villain (even if you think they are)
  • Don't use your children to argue the case for keeping the family together. It's a terrible burden to put on them, sets unrealistic expectations that they can 'save their lives' and is emotional blackmail against your spouse. And do you really want to be married to someone who's only with you because your children begged them?
  • Don't do it in a public setting or in front of other relatives or friends. This is a private moment - your children will probably be distressed and no-one likes breaking down in front of other people.
  • Don't try and defend your actions or get into an argument about it
  • Don't leave it to your spouse to handle alone - your children may want to speak to you too
  • Don't blame them, or suggest your blame then, in any way
  • Don't assume they're going to be devestated and encourage that emotion. Be prepared for it, but also accept that children react in different ways and some may actually be relieved, particularly if you've been fighting a lot.

All pages in this article

  1. 1. Divorce: How and when to tell the kids
  1. 2. Divorce: How and when to tell the kids - the dos

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Rebeca Kasak

Your children may not know how to express their intense emotions appropriately, and it may be some time before they can articulate their feelings.

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