How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Divorce: Dos and Don’ts

Patricia TichenorLegal

parents talking to kids about divorce

Divorce is hard on the entire family, especially if a couple has children together. Although separating may be the best choice, it’s important to be prepared for an honest and neutral discussion to make the process less stressful when you break the news to your kids. The last thing you want to do is to make your children feel like they’re in a tug-of-war between you and their other parent.

If you and your spouse have decided to separate, here’s how to support your kids and talk to them about your upcoming divorce.

Do be honest and upfront.

Oftentimes, children will wonder what they did wrong and think they may have caused the divorce. Sit your children down, express your love for them, and make sure they know it isn’t their fault in any way. They also need to understand what will change about your living situation and which parent will be moving out of the marital home.

Do listen to your children.

It’s likely that your children are going to have questions about your divorce. Be there to listen to their concerns and support them through whatever they’re feeling. When they talk to you, give them your undivided attention and stay neutral, as these conversations may cause your children to express negative feelings.

Do provide support for your children.

Just like you, your children might grieve for the loss of their current family unit. Be there to listen to them, evaluate your children’s needs, and provide additional support to them in and outside the home. This may be as simple as keeping them on their daily activity and meal routines or letting them spend extra time with other family members like grandparents and cousins, or you may need to seek therapy if your children are struggling with the situation.

Do create joy in your home.

During this trying time, your children can use some extra joy. Help boost their moods by creating fun and positive situations at home and doing one-on-one activities with them, such as crafting or cooking together.

Don’t make your kids pick sides.

In cases when a divorce gets contentious, some parents may put pressure on their children to “choose sides.” Forcing your kids to support one parent over the other can create added stress and resentment in the short-term and long-term, so avoid involving them in your decisions as you separate your life from your spouse’s.

Don’t argue with your spouse about legal matters in front of your kids.

Any and all heated discussions or arguments between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should be held behind closed doors. A hostile environment can emotionally affect your children, even more so than the divorce itself. Don’t let your children see or hear you fight, and be sure to keep the talk of all legal matters between the two of you.

Don’t speak poorly about your spouse in front of your children.

It’s normal for you to feel hurt and even angry with your spouse throughout the process, but one of the worst things you can do is speak negatively about your spouse in front of your children. Remember, to your children, their other parent may still be their superhero. Whether your spouse cheated or did something else that you think is horrible causing the divorce, gossiping and saying poor things about your spouse can only hurt your children even more.

Don’t try to handle your divorce alone.

At My Legal Case Coach, we understand the impact divorce has on families. That’s why we’re committed to helping Virginia residents make the DIY legal process easier with our convenient legal case form packets and ongoing virtual legal coaching sessions.

If you’re preparing for a divorce, schedule your free 15-minute consultation with MLCC to learn more about how we can help you and your family prepare for your divorce.