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Telling a Child When Divorce Is Imminent

Handling a divorce is a difficult enough situation for adults — so how do you handle informing a young child when the two most important people in his or her life are getting divorced? Simply put, there is no easy way to do this. But there are ways and techniques to use that will soften the blow and help children understand the situation. If children tend to have a good understanding of the situation, as well as a good support system, they will likely have more success adjusting to the changed circumstances of divorce and related family law issues.

Exactly what you will say to your children about your divorce will, to some extent, depend on the age of the children. But there are some general guidelines that are extremely helpful for a child of almost any age.

Inform the Children Together

When parents are breaking up and getting a divorce, it is vital for the children to perceive that this decision has nothing to do with them. It's a decision between "mommy and daddy." The children will be loved and cared for even if everyone is not living under the same roof. When children are informed by both of their parents, this will set the stage for a healthier — and ultimately successful — adjustment.

Create a Plan Together

It is essential to confer with your estranged partner to come up with a plan as to how you will tell the children about your decision. Even things as simple as the when and where are important for you to agree upon, so you don't think you are going to bring it up at dinner, while your former partner thinks you're going to tell them on Sunday morning. Whatever your differences with your partner, you must be in agreement. This, too, will help to facilitate the transition for your children.

Telling your children about an imminent separation and divorce is not easy. But you must put the children's needs first — after all, the common family law standard when making decisions is examining what is in the "best interests of the child" — and remember that whatever impact this change has on you, it is likely just as stressful for any children involved. With proper attention and preparation, you can better prepare your children for divorce.

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