What to tell your children about divorce

Written by: David Gottlieb

How to explain divorce to your children

You and your spouse are separating and planning to get divorced.  How do you explain it to your children? 

  • Ideally both parents would talk with the children together.  
  • Tell your childten you both love them and you will both continue to see them, but that you have decided to live apart. 
  • If you think they might be worried that it is their fault (especially if you were arguing recently about them), reassure them that this is a decision you and your spouse made, and that it is not because of them. 

You usually do not want to blame one parent or the other for the divorce, unless there have been serious problems that the children have witnessed, such as alcohol abuse or spousal abuse.  It is usually not helpful for the children to know the details of your divorce.  Remember that the children want to love both of you and don’t want to be put in the position of taking sides.

Early on in the process of separation, there is likely to be some tension between you and your spouse.  This can be a tough time for your children, as they see you arguing or feeling down.  However, once you and your spouse work out the divorce terms, and begin to move on with your lives, the entire family will be under less stress, including your children. 

One factor that affects whether there will be long term stress for your children is whether you and your spouse cooperate at joint events (like school activities) and do not argue frequently about things like visitation arrangements.  It is important that you negotiate in private (make sure the children can not hear you on the phone if you are arguing with your spouse) and that you do not criticize the other parent in front of the children. 

Remember that even though you will not be married, you are still parents together, and basic cooperation is a key to your children’s well being.

Check out Dr. Dave's blog at yourchildisdefiant.blogspot.com

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM