Communicating separation and divorce to children
Telling your children that you are planning to divorce can be daunting. Although it is never going to be easy to explain to a child of any age that their parents are separating, there are ways to break the news which will ensure your children feel safe and supported throughout the divorce process.
How you explain your divorce will largely depend on the age of your children
While children are all individuals and develop at different rates, it can be helpful to consider what could be an appropriate way to break the news to your child, using their age as a guide.
Toddlers and younger children struggle to understand the future ramifications of their parents separating and are likely to ask simple questions, such as where their old room has gone if they moved into a new house, for example. At this age, it is particularly important to make sure that as many routines as possible are kept to, in order to help them through the changes in their lives. Stick to simple explanations such as where your child will live, when they will see their other parent and who will look after them.
Children between 6 and 11 years old will need more detailed explanations and are likely to have more questions. Again, keep explanations simple. Explain that even though you have decided to separate from the other parent, you both still love them and will be there to look after and support them. Avoid giving the child information that they do not need, for example if one of you had an affair. Inform them of practical matters (such as where they will be living, who will take them to school and where their pet will live) and emphasise that the divorce is in no way their fault. Encourage them to talk and ask questions if they are worried about anything.
Older children are likely to want more in-depth explanations. Again, emphasise that the divorce is not their fault and that you both still love them. Teenagers may act as if they do not want to talk about the divorce but try to keep communication lines open, so they feel that they can ask questions, if they need to.
Communicate your divorce together, if possible
Breaking the news together can help to show children that both parents are united in the decision to divorce and can reduce the chance of the children blaming one parent for the situation. Also, telling the children about the divorce together can help to put a child’s mind at rest that both parents will be there for them in the future.
While this will not be possible in all circumstances (if domestic abuse is involved, for example), communicating the divorce to children together can help enormously.
For more information in relation to child arrangements following a separation or divorce, get in touch with us to book a free initial consultation with one of our experienced .