How to Tell Your Children About Divorce and Separation?

A divorce or a separation is a stressful, emotional experience for everyone involved and, for parents, discussing your plans with your children can be a particularly challenging and upsetting conversation to have.

Remember, every child is different and whilst there is no ‘correct’ way to break the news to your children, there are steps you can take to ensure your children feel fully supported and loved, regardless of your family’s situation. Take a look at our guidance when discussing a divorce or separation with your child.

Prepare what you’re going to say

It is important that you both take the time to carefully discuss and plan what you’re going to tell your children and consider the details you’re going to keep private. Keep in the mind that the age of your children will also impact how best to approach this conversation.

Remember, when preparing what you’re going to say:

  • Be honest
  • Explain the situation using language your children will understand
  • Avoid blaming one another
  • Avoid disclosing unnecessary details

It may also be beneficial to try to anticipate any difficult questions they may ask. This will ensure that you’ll be better equipped to help your children handle the news.

Tell your children at home

Children feel safer at home; an environment where they can express their emotions and receive the necessary support from both parents. Plan the timing of the conversation with this in mind.

Tell your children together

Prior to the discussion, agree on what to tell your children and break the news to them together. This will ensure they only hear one version of the story, avoiding any confusion. Try to also make plans to talk to your children before there are any changes to living arrangements at home.

Reassure your children

After talking to your children, listen to them and encourage them to share how they are feeling. Then, the most important thing is to reassure your children and ensure they feel secure, safe and loved.

Many children may think they had something to do with the divorce or separation, looking for answers and focusing on a time they argued with you or got into trouble at school. Reassurance is key to help them let go of this misconception and any other confusion surrounding the circumstances.

Look out for behavioural changes

Different children of different ages will react in various ways to the news and this could change on a day-to-day basis. You may notice behavioural changes in your children, including regression with sleep or potty training, rebellious behaviour or clinginess. This may be a sign that they are not coping well. This is not abnormal, however, if you are worried about how your child is dealing with the divorce or separation, speak to your GP, the school or a counsellor.

How can Hepburn Delaney help?

The team at Hepburn Delaney truly understand the sensitive nature of divorce or separation and the disclosure of this to other family members. We offer legal support through your divorce as well as family mediation services to help manage the process and future arrangements with your children’s best interests at heart.

If you are in the process of going through a divorce or a separation, we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.