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Tips for telling kids about an approaching divorce


To break divorce news more gently, parents should assess each child’s needs, plan a cooperative announcement and provide real answers to common concerns.

Divorce can introduce many concerns for parents in Boston, including devising a suitable parenting plan and ensuring that their children are provided for financially. However, one of the first hurdles that many parents face is telling their kids about the upcoming divorce. Most parents dread this task, but fortunately, there are many steps that parents can take to make this news less difficult for their children.

Avoid spontaneous announcements

Divorce news can be traumatic, and kids may remember the way that their parents chose to share it for years, according to Psychology Today. Considering this, parents should give careful thought to how they will explain the situation. Parents should take time to choose a setting that is safe and free of distractions, and they should also consider the timing of the announcement. If possible, parents should avoid breaking the news near special occasions or during already stressful times, such as exam weeks.

Don't appear divided

Psychology Today also recommends that parents work together and deliver a unified message when announcing an impending divorce. Children can benefit from seeing that their parents are taking a mature approach, rather than showing resentment or arguing about fault. A unified approach can alleviate fears children may feel about being forced to choose between their parents. A cooperative style can also prepare people who intend to co-parent for sharing child custody and visitation rights in the future.

Appreciate age-based needs

Parents should also tailor their message to accommodate the age, maturity and overall needs of their children. According to Today's Parent, younger children may not require specific information about the reasons for the divorce, but they often want answers about concrete issues, such as post-divorce living arrangements. Older children, in contrast, may need more information in order to understand and eventually accept the separation.

Although taking age into account when delivering divorce news is beneficial, Psychology Today recommends against telling children this news at different times based on their age. Informing older children of a divorce earlier on can make them feel burdened with another person's secret. Keeping younger kids out of the loop can cause them to feel that they were underestimated or treated unfairly.

Offer real answers

While many parents want to protect children from pain during divorce, giving empty or misleading answers isn't an effective way to do so. Parents should be prepared to give clear responses to questions about their post-divorce plans or the reasons for the separation. Parents should try to avoid brushing off questions or giving vague reassurances in place of real answers.

Moving forward after divorce

Breaking the news of divorce can be difficult, but it is only the first step toward helping a child cope with the separation. It's also essential for parents to craft an appropriate plan to govern how they will share child custody and parenting time once the divorce is over. Additionally, it's critical for parents to secure appropriate child support payments or request any necessary adjustments to the payments that are required under state law.

For assistance during this process, parents may benefit from consulting with an attorney who is well-versed in these issues. An attorney may be able to offer advice on the relevant state laws and help a parent identify feasible potential solutions.

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