You have just filed for divorce, or maybe you and your spouse are thinking about a divorce. While there will be big changes for you, if you have children, there will also be big changes for the children. How you talk to your children about the divorce will depend upon their ages and development. Changes in your children’s everyday lives, such as a change of residence or one parent leaving the home, are far more important to them. Information about legal proceedings and meetings with lawyers are best kept among adults.
Simpler answers are best for young children. Avoid giving them more information than they need. Sometimes it is best to not use the word “divorce” to them. Instead, explain that mom and dad have decided it is better for them to be friends than to continue to live in the same house together.
A child’s reaction to divorce can vary depending upon his or her age and other factors. Some may cry and beg for a reconciliation, and others may behave inappropriately. Reducing conflict with your spouse, being a consistent and nurturing parent, and making sure both of you remain involved are all actions that can support your children regardless of how they are reacting to the divorce.
Support groups for children whose parents are divorcing are also available at many schools and religious communities. A school counselor can also provide support. If more help is needed, confer with a therapist experienced in working with children.
After the initial discussion, keep the door open to further talks by creating opportunities for them to talk about the situation. Use these times to acknowledge their feelings and offer support. Always assure them that none of this is their fault and that they are still loved by both you and your spouse, regardless of the fact that you will not all be living together.