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Tips for Explaining Divorce to Children

Outside a death in the family, divorce is probably the most shocking event children can experience, especially when they are young. Breaking the news that you and your spouse are leaving each other is an extremely difficult task, one that must be done with SENSITIVITY and CARE. Here are a few tips that can help you explain to your children what’s happening during this trying time and ease the hurt and confusion they may be feeling:

  • Calmly speak to your children. Find a quiet time to talk and don’t bring up the subject when you are stressed or highly emotional. Talk to your children as often as needed so they know you are there for them and are concerned about how they feel.
  • Accept whatever emotions they bring to the conversation. Your children will experience many emotions, including sadness and anger. This is normal and children should be allowed to express how they’re feeling. Respond with empathy and love.
  • Respond to their needs. They might need a hug, or they might want you to leave them alone for a while. They might even need to speak to someone else – a relative, a family friend or a therapist.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions, and be open and honest with your answers. Whatever you do, make sure they understand that both you and your spouse love them and that the divorce is in no way their fault. Also, no matter how you and your spouse feel about each other, do not criticize or lay blame on the other person in front of your children. They are dealing with enough just knowing you are splitting up and they shouldn’t be asked to take sides.