How Much Should You Tell Your Kids About the Divorce?

- Gary E. Williams

As any divorced parent can tell you, there is no easy way to break the news to the kids. It can be easier if the announcement comes from both parents. And it helps if both parties are calm and focused on the needs of the children. However, children often have other questions once the news has sunk in. How much information should you give if they ask why you decided to get divorced?

Clinical psychologist Edward D. Farber advises parents to give children the honest basics. For instance, you can explain that you and your spouse no longer love each other in the same way you once did and no longer want to live together. Keep in mind that young children may worry that the divorce is happening because they did something wrong and that all children worry about losing contact with one or both parents.

A divorce is a major disruption for a child, emotionally, psychologically and practically. You can help ease the pain by following these guidelines:

  • Reassure children that both parents still love them.
  • Do not blame the other parent for the divorce.
  • Try to answer questions honestly, in an age-appropriate manner.
  • Make sure the children understand that “it is not their fault.”

If you need to vent your anger or hurt about the divorce, talk with a friend or a professional counselor. Children do not need to know the gory details about the breakdown in the relationship between you and your ex-spouse. Giving false hope about a reconcillation is also not useful in the long run.

No matter why you decide to get a divorce, working with the right family divorce attorney can make it easier for the whole family to get through the process.