3 November 2023
Helping Children Understand Divorce: What to Say and How to Say It
Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging and emotional process for everyone involved, especially when children are part of the equation. When breaking the news to your children, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with sensitivity, honesty, and an emphasis on their well-being. In this blog, we will explore how to talk to your children about divorce and provide some guidance on what to say during this difficult time.
1. Choose the Right Time and Place
Before you begin the conversation, find a quiet and comfortable setting where you can talk openly and without distractions. Make sure that both parents are present if possible, as this can help convey a united front and a sense of stability for the children.
2. Be Honest but Age-Appropriate
The level of detail you share should be age appropriate. Younger children may not need as much information as older ones. Be honest about the fact that you’re getting a divorce but avoid going into the nitty-gritty details of the issues between you and your partner, particularly if there is a fault based reason for the break-down of the marriage.
3. Reassure Them of Your Love
Children often fear that the divorce is somehow their fault. Reassure them that your love for them remains unwavering and that the divorce is a decision made by the adults in their lives.
4. Emphasize the Unchanged Aspects
Emphasise where possible the aspects of the childrens’ lives and routines that will stay the same
5. Encourage Questions and Open Dialogue
Give your children an opportunity to ask questions and express their feelings. Be prepared to listen, even if their questions or emotions are difficult to hear. This open dialogue can help them process their emotions.
6. Avoid Blaming or Badmouthing
It’s essential to avoid blaming or badmouthing your ex-partner in front of your children. Negative comments can cause unnecessary emotional distress and confusion.
7. Seek Professional Help
If your children are struggling to cope with the news, consider seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor who specialises in child and family issues. Professional guidance can be invaluable during this challenging time. It is always worth letting the childrens’ school know of the situation so that support can be provided there too.
8. Co-Parenting Cooperation
Cooperation between co-parents is vital. Try to keep conflicts away from the children and present a united front in your parenting decisions. This consistency can provide a sense of security. Sometimes, following the breakdown of a marriage, parents cannot agree what the best arrangements for the children should be. This can be resolved ideally through the process of mediation or if that is not possible by way of a formal application to the Court. Certainly, with older children, it is likely that they will be spoken to independently as part of the Court process to establish their wishes and feelings. It is important that the children are not placed under emotional pressure, even indirectly, by feeling that they are responsible for decisions relating to them. This can often be seen where a relationship between parents is particularly hostile and children feel ‘caught in the middle’.
9. Be Patient
Remember that the emotional impact of divorce on children can be ongoing. Be patient and understanding as they adjust to the changes in their lives. Their feelings may evolve over time.
10. Show Unconditional Love
No matter what, continue to show your children unconditional love and support. This love can be their anchor during a time of uncertainty.
Telling your children about divorce is one of the most challenging conversations you’ll ever have, but how you handle it can have a significant impact on their emotional well-being. Approach the conversation with honesty, sensitivity, and a focus on their needs. By providing reassurance, maintaining a loving presence, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can help your children navigate this difficult transition with resilience and strength.
This blog is intended to provide general advice and guidance only and it is recognised that there can be a number of different reasons for the break down in a marriage and there may be some scenarios where the above advice may not be appropriate. It is always sensible to seek specific advice relating to your own personal circumstances.
At LDJ Solicitors, our experienced and sympathetic family law team can give you clear and comprehensive advice to assist you with a breakdown of a marriage or relationship. As members of the Resolution and Children Panel, our family law team have many years of experience working in this area. We have an excellent reputation for giving sound and realistic advice and we will provide you with constant support to help ease any anxiety during this difficult time.