Talking to children about divorce is difficult. Many children find out that their parents are getting a divorce from other children or adults. This causes children to lose trust in their parents. The following tips can help both the child and parents with the challenge and stress of these conversations:
- Do not keep the divorce a secret or wait until the last minute.
- Take time to tell your child together.
- Keep things simple and straightforward. Use age appropriate language.
- Tell them the divorce is not their fault.
- Admit that this will be sad and upsetting for everyone.
- Reassure your child that you both still love them and will always be their parents.
- Note: It is important when talking to young children to not use the term love in this content, “I don’t love your father/mother anymore.” Use the term you are not getting along anymore and it would be better if you lived in separate houses. Leave the word “love” for how you will always love them (the child/children). Otherwise they see you did love the other parent and now you don’t. Does that mean that you might not love me (the child) in the future too!
- Do not discuss each other’s faults or problems with the child.
- Note: This can be very hurtful to your child. Remember they are a part of both of you. In fact, it may be easy for them to criticize the other parent, but don’t join in because it still hurts them to hear criticism about the other parent.
An open communication between you and your child is very important while going through divorce. It is always good to check with your child on how they are feeling.
Click here for more information on divorce and separation.
Gail Brand, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
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