How to Tell Your Children You are Getting Divorced
Divorce affects more than the two people who are ending their marriage. If you have children,
you can expect them to have opinions about the divorce and to respond negatively. Most people
realize that divorce is a difficult experience for children, so they seek out advice about how best
to break the news.
Although there is no easy way to tell your family you are divorcing, we offer the following tips
to guide your planning.
Tell all Children at Once
Parents magazine provides a tip that can reduce family tension — tell everyone at once that you
are getting a divorce. In other words, gather everyone into the living room and tell them at the
Why is this important? You do not want one child to hear it from another, which can raise a host
of issues involving trust and resentment. Also, your child might say things that are not true,
which can be hard to clarify later. Instead, everyone should hear about the divorce from you and
your spouse. Also, make sure to speak about the divorce as a joint action. Use “we” a lot more than “I.” Even
if one of you does not want to get divorced, this united front is important for children who do not
need to be dragged into the drama of why the marriage failed.
Do Not Neglect Adult Children
Naturally, you might be most worried about your youngest children whose lives will be
interrupted the most. Even adult children can take the news hard. After all, adult children
probably look to their parents’ marriage as a template for their own relationships. A child who
has recently married might suddenly develop fears about his or her own marriage after being told
that you are ending your union. You should have a serious discussion with adult children just as
you would with young ones.
Assure Children They are Not to Blame
It is not unusual for children to believe they contributed or caused the divorce. Now is the time to
tell your children that you love them and that they are not to blame. Also remind your children
that both you and your spouse will remain in their lives forever. This is especially important if
one parent is moving out of the home.
Do not expect children to suddenly be okay with the divorce. Feelings of anger, loneliness, and
fear can linger for months, so make sure to affirm your love for your child as often as possible.
Realize that Adjustment is a Process
Your child might not have any questions about the divorce when told, but they could pop up with
questions weeks or months down the road. Always be open to your child’s questions and realize that adjustment takes time. As Psychology Today helpfully notes, you should always remain
attuned to how your children are feeling and respond appropriately.
If you are considering divorce, you need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the process.
At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, we have worked tirelessly to protect our client’s rights during
a breakup. For more information, call one of our Wilmington divorce lawyers for a free
consultation at 910-772-1678.