7 tips for talking to your kids about divorce

Talking to your kids about divorce isn’t easy, but doing it well can help them understand, express themselves, and move on. We share several keys about this.

7 tips for talking to your kids about divorce

Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: August 15, 2022

A few decades ago, children of divorced parents were in the minority and more often suffered from confusion, disorientation and stigma. Today it is a more common reality, but not for this reason easier to assimilate. That’s why we’re sharing some keys to talking to your kids about divorce.

Although your children are already familiar with marital separations and have experienced them in their immediate environment, experiencing the change in their own families will be painful. The separation will affect the child and change their life, but it doesn’t have to be a traumatic event.

This will depend, to a large extent, on the communication skills and emotional intelligence of the parents.. Knowing how to center the information and transmit it correctly, as well as accompanying the process of assimilation, is important. If you’re not sure where to start, these tips can help.

1. When should you tell your children about divorce?

is relevant not breaking the news to the children until the divorce is a final decision. Sometimes doubts come and go, and what seemed like an inevitable parting ends up being given a new opportunity.

Going through these ups and downs can be very confusing for children and teenagers. Therefore, wait to be clear in your position.

Once decided, choose a suitable time, in which you can be alone and calm. Keep the conversation at home, as it’s a safe place for them.

Talk to all of your children at once. Cut out distractions, like the TV or cell phones, and look them in the eye. Even maintaining some physical contact if your children are very young.

It is very convenient that both parents are present in the conversation, that you show a united front. This will keep the children safe, as they will see that they can continue to trust them.

If only one parent is the one talking with the children, the idea of ​​discord is further encouraged and the child is insecure.

2. What about the reasons for the breakup?

It is natural for children to want to know why their parents are divorcing. And the most appropriate thing is to answer honestly, but with head: do not lose sight of the fact that you are both their main attachment and reference figure.

They don’t need to listen to reproaches, accusations or reproaches.

You can explain that at this point, continuing to be in a relationship is not the best thing for you. That you tried to make the relationship work, but sometimes coexistence and adult life are complicated, and it’s the best decision for everyone.

Also take into account the age of the children to adapt the language and the explanations to their ability to understand.

3. Explain how the divorce will affect your life

When talking to your children about divorce, it is essential that you explain to them how it will affect their lives on a practical level. What will happen and when? Questions such as where they will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, whether they will change schools, activities or routines need to be addressed.

Having the answers to these types of questions before the speech can be important. to convey clarity and structure and not let them swim in a sea of ​​doubts and uncertainties. Explain to them that you will take their opinion about the time division into account, but that they don’t have to choose or worry about it.

You adults will decide. In addition, they must know that you will do everything not to disrupt their lives and their daily lives.

4. Ensure unconditional love

If there is an important message to convey in this situation, it is unconditional love. Assure the children that you both love them madly and that won’t change. May they continue to rely on both of them for everything they need and that you will be by their side, even if you no longer live together.

They may be worried that just as a couple’s love is ending, your love for them is also ending. Therefore, it is necessary to reaffirm and reassure that they will continue to receive love, presence and support from both. That you will continue to be their parents and that you will cooperate to give them the best.

5. Avoid guilt

It may be difficult for you to understand, but many children tend to blame themselves when their parents divorce. They assume it happened because they misbehaved, made a mistake, or failed.

For this reason, even if your children do not verbalize it, reassure them that the decision does not concern them, that they are wonderful and that it is about adults and a couple.

6. Allow Emotional Expression

When talking to your children about divorce, you may see mixed and unexpected reactions. Some children are very touched, while others seem completely carefree.

Everyone’s defense mechanisms can be dissimilar and that’s not easy news to take in. So, above all, be patient.

Children need to be able to express their emotions, whether angry or angry, confused or sad. Whether they need to cry, ask questions or postpone the conversation. It is important to respect them and not suppress their feelings.

It is also positive for you as parents to express how the change makes you feel. It won’t take away from your authority; On the contrary, being vulnerable will help your children see that it is natural to have and express emotions.

You can ask them how they are feeling and if there is anything specific they need to know. But you will also need to pay attention to their non-verbal language and their expressions, as it can be difficult for them to verbalize it; especially the little ones.

Prioritizing the welfare of children should be a rule in divorces, although it is not always respected.

7. After talking with your children about the divorce, carry out an accompaniment

Ultimately, keep in mind that this conversation will only be the beginning, a first contact with the change to come. Your children and teenagers will have to come back to the subject later, raise the issues that arise or express their emotions once they have accepted it.

Start new conversations over days and months. Be prepared for the spontaneous ones that may emerge.

In short, talking to children about divorce is not easy. This is a confusing and painful situation for all.

However, by planning this chat in advance, showing a united front, and most importantly, providing love and safety to the children, it will be an easier drink to pass. It will only be the beginning, but it will allow them to understand that neither love nor family is over; they will only transform.

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