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How to Talk to Your Children About Separation and Divorce

When I was asked what the hardest thing about parenting was, I always answer, without hesitation, talking to my kids about the fact that their dad and I were getting divorced. At the time, my eldest child was fifteen and the youngest was eight with two others in between. They were old enough to understand the tension in the house between me and their dad, but they couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just solve it…after all…people who love each other fight but always forgive each other.

Setting that New Narrative

And there it was. How could we tell our kids that we no longer loved each other enough to forgive the hurt? And would that mean that the kids would wonder if we could stop loving them as well? After all, if we fell out of love once, why couldn’t we fall out of love a second time with them?

It was a harrowing experience but it really taught us exactly how to talk to our children both through the divorce and about the divorce. And these tips are excellent for any parent is faced with the question on how to talk to your children about separation and divorce.

First: Plan Ahead

The very first thing that you should do is plan ahead before you discuss your separation and divorce with your kids. The better prepared you are, the easier the process will be for your kids. Some things to plan are:

  • What will be said to the kids about the divorce. It is important that you keep it age appropriate and also don’t just flood them with information.
  • Where it will be done. I recommend that you choose a place where your kids are comfortable and where you won’t be interrupted. At home is often the best place.
  • When you will discuss it. It is important to set up a suitable time where it is calm and where you don’t have to rush off to an event or something so that the kids can have time to process what has been said.
  • Supports for your kids. Finally, have some supports ready for your kids. Things or people who comfort them and are in your inner circle, such as grandparents. Don’t invite anyone who would cause further tension but sometimes kids need someone other than their parents to go to after hearing the news. Don’t be offended if they are do, simply support them.

Planning for this all in advance will help things go smoother than simply springing it on them immediately after the decision to separate has been made.

Second: Decide Who is Going to Talk

This is really important and it really depends on how well you can both be together. For your children’s sake, if you cannot be in the same room without fighting, don’t try to tell them together. Simply agree on what will be said and then one partner can give the news. You can also do a second talk with them so that both parents can confirm the same thing. It is particularly important to not go off script during this conversation so that you are both saying the same thing and not putting your relationship stressors on your children.

If you are able to discuss things together, sit down and decide who will do the majority of the talking and who will be answering the majority of the questions. This helps keep the conversation calm and to give the kids as little stress as possible.

Third: Reaffirm Your Dedication to Your Kids

Reaffirm, reaffirm and reaffirm that you are dedicated to your kids and so is your ex-partner. This is important because kids can often worry about whether their parents will be there for them or if they are the reason for the divorce and so on. When you reaffirm your kids of your dedication, love and feelings, you are supporting them emotionally, which is so important when talking to your kids about your divorce.

At the end of telling them, the most important thing that they feel and understand is that your and your ex-partner’s feelings for them will never change.

Fourth: Answer their Questions

When you tell your kids, they are going to have a lot of questions and that is perfectly normal. Some will be expected, such as, “Was it something I did?” and some will be completely surprising. I remember my youngest asked me if we’d be able to take the garden stones he’d painted that summer. Something that I didn’t even think was important was a cherished moment where our whole family painted stones and he didn’t want them lost.

Don’t scoff at any question your child asks because there really is no stupid question. Kids think on different levels than we do and things that we don’t think are important could be incredibly important to them. Just answer them as best you can and if you don’t know the answer, tell them and say you’ll figure it out together.

Fifth: Be Clear About What This Means

Finally, be clear about what this news mean. If they ask if you will get back together, don’t lead them on with false promises or non-committal answers. Simply answer truthfully that no, you aren’t going to get back together and this is the new way things are going to be.

Also make sure that you are clear about what will be happening with them. Who they will be living with and how you will be looking at visitations. You don’t have to have it all ironed out and you can invite the kids to share their feedback once they have time to process the news.

Always make sure that you finish the discussion on how much you and your ex-partner love them and how that will never change. That reassurance is really key to helping kids process as they can really get caught up in that fear that they’ll be unloved now that you and your partner are separated.

By outlining things and being clear, you can help set expectations and prevent further confusion, which is very important in ensuring their well-being.

Telling your kids is going to be one of the hardest things that you do but if you do it lovingly, being aware of their feelings and centering it on the needs of the kids, you can get through the news and start building a new life as co-parents to your children. It may take time to find your new normal but coming from a positive first step, your kids may find that new normal even better than the tension filled one they left behind.

Why 2houses?

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A calendar for everyone, getting organised when you’re divorced is a priority. 2houses provides you an online shared schedule, with many editing, adding, and sync features.


For us, as divorced parents, the financial topic is most of the time a conflict topic. Now, 2houses manages all expenses from each parent, keeps you informed on the situation, day after day, coins after coins.


Communication is key, this is why 2houses offers you an online messaging tool, simple, efficient and secure.


The journal is your quick family social network. You can easily share all information, news, photos, videos, and even your children’s funny quotes. The family is never far away, no matter where you are geographically located.

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