How to Tell Your Children You’re Getting a Divorce

By Janhavi Desai | 3-4 mins read | January 25, 2020
How to Tell Your Children You’re Getting a Divorce
The Effect of Divorce On Children Can Be Devastating Unless They Are Prepared

It is impossible to put into words the agony of realizing, after you have children, that your marriage cannot work. The obvious tension between parents doesn’t go unnoticed by little children, but they are not equipped to understand and cope with it on their own. If you’re getting a divorce, your children will have questions and it would be best for you and your spouse to answer them. Telling your kids about you're getting a divorce is not a easy task. Here are some tips on how to help your children prepare for your divorce and how to tell your kids you're getting a divorce.

8 Tips on Telling your Kids You're Getting a Divorce

Do It Together

Divorces are usually taken in order to get out of an unhappy or unsafe marriage. While presenting the idea of divorce to your children, try not to give elaborate explanations of why you can’t stay married. Instead, focus on how it will make you as well as your partner happier to part ways. Little children need to hear the same thing from both you and your partner in order to be able to believe it. If possible, keep your problems with each other aside for a while and sit down together to talk to your children about this.

Avoid Negatives

Preparing for divorce is far from being a pleasant experience. For the sake of your children, though, it’s important for you to have a positive attitude about it. It’s okay to let your kids know how you’re feeling, but make sure you always reinforce the thought that tomorrow will be a better day. Focus on what is going to happen more than on what won’t happen anymore. If they have questions, give them brief answers without analysing the details.

Be Compassionate but Firm

Handling divorce and toddlers simultaneously is chaotic and taxing. Each one on its own takes a lot out of you, but a combination of the two is too much to take on by yourself. Your children may become hostile and angry. It’s okay to try and comfort them, but don’t give in to the urge to back out. You must remember that you have to be happy with your life if you want your kids to be happy with theirs. Base your decisions on that thought. Everyone including your children will come around once they see that you’re doing well for yourself.

Don’t Talk Till You’re Confident

It’s incredibly tough to decide something like how to tell a 4 year old about divorce, but you must learn to trust your instinct. You should be entirely certain that you will be able to handle the reactions your children might have, including anger and hysterical crying, before you decide to talk to them about it. You must not become uncertain because of their reactions because seeing you wavering that can confuse and scar them. Make sure that you’re confident enough for them to believe you when you say everything will be okay.

Do Not Sugarcoat

Children in the age of the internet grow up much faster than you may realize. While it is important to try and keep them from feeling sad, lonely or hurt, it’s equally important to ensure that you don’t come across as lying or patronizing. If they feel that way, they might distance themselves from you. Be as honest as you can be, and try your best not to say anything like “You’re too young to understand.”

Let Them Know What To Expect

When you’re preparing your children to deal with divorce, remember that it’s the uncertainty that rattles them the most. You won’t be doing them any favours by trying to keep them away from the facts of what exactly is happening. It’s not ideal to expose children to potentially bitter and long-drawn court battles, but it sure is necessary to let them know what’s likely to happen. If your children know what to expect, they will be less hurt and shaken when it actually happens.

Do Not Bad-Mouth Your Spouse

There’s probably no greater evil than parents who use their children as pawns in a nasty divorce case. People who lie about their spouses under the pretext of helping children through divorce to gain their approval, or worse - to gain custody - are best kept as far from the children as possible. Children should never be made to pick sides, especially not in mom versus dad scenarios. If you suspect that your partner might be doing this, seek immediate professional help. Don’t try to address this on your own, it might only make things more confusing and devastating for them. Trained hands are far safer than possessive ones for children to be in when they’re facing a toxic scenario between their parents.

Ensure That your Kids Have A Support System They Trust

You are likely to be vulnerable and emotionally volatile during this phase. Acknowledge and accept that fact. Bring in someone that you as well as your kids can trust so they have someone to lean on when you’re unable to be there. If you’re uncertain about how to tell your 4 or 5 year old about divorce, consider asking such a person to step in and help you out. That might go a long way in building trust between your children and this person, which might prove to be critical in the coming months.

Divorce is a painful experience for all parties involved. Ask for help when you need it, even if it means asking someone else to look after your children when you can’t handle it. Your children know you’re in pain and they will need someone to comfort them. You can’t always be that person. Let out your agony in any manner you like, just ensure that your kids aren’t around to hear/see it. We hope this article helped resolve at least some of your troubles. Good luck and take care!

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About The Author:
Janhavi Desai

Last Updated: January 25, 2020
This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the above blog/article text are the personal views of the author, and not necessarily reflect the views of SchoolMyKids. Any omission or errors are the author's and we do not assume any liability or responsibility for them.
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