How to tell young children you are divorcing

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2022 | Child Custody

However blissfully unaware of your marital troubles, your children are, at some point, you will have to break the bad news to them. Doing it before someone else does is crucial, as is doing it correctly.

Whether you tell the kids with your spouse or separately, you need to discuss it together first. Part of that discussion should be agreeing to some rules:

Avoid blaming

You might feel the divorce is all down to your spouse. Yet there is no point in sharing that with your kids. Aside from the harm of them thinking one parent caused everything to change, it is typically not true. A massive percentage of marriages do not work out, so you could argue that is down to human nature. Maybe we are not that good at living with one person for the rest of our life? That does not necessarily make us all bad people.

Your child will experience similar ups and downs in their relationships. Do you want to teach them that every time a friendship fades, or they have a falling out, it is the other person’s fault? Or do you want to show them that it is possible to change the nature of a relationship while still maintaining mutual respect?

Non-verbal communication matters 

“Mom’s late home again. Her boss must have asked her to stay behind and give him a hand. Nudge, nudge wink wink.” Kids have been reading your non-verbal clues ever since they were babies, so be careful of the way you say things as well as what you say. Your spouse may not be your spouse for much longer, but they will always be your child’s parent, so even if you have no respect left for them, avoiding speaking badly about them shows respect for your child.

You probably cannot tell your child everything in that first conversation. Aside from it being too much to take in at once, you might not know all the details yet. Seeking legal help to understand how things such as child custody work can help you provide more information to your children as and when appropriate.