Telling your children about your divorce or breakup

Woman hugging a female child who looks upset

Your world feels tilted. Your partner drops the bomb about wanting a divorce, leaving you reeling with a cocktail of emotions – shock, anger and sadness. But amidst the emotional chaos, another daunting and completely overwhelming task looms: telling your children.

Why is this conversation so incredibly difficult?


Well, it's not just about delivering bad news. It's about shattering their sense of security, disrupting their routines, and facing their confusion about a situation they didn't create. And let's be honest, when you're still blindsided by the news yourself, the thought of explaining it to them can feel completely overwhelming.

Here's what you need to know:

  • It's Ok to Not Be Ok: You don't have to have it all figured out before talking to your kids. They'll pick up on your emotions anyway, so be honest (age-appropriately) about your own hurt.
  • United Front (Even if It's a Struggle): If possible, talk to your children together with your partner. Even if things are strained, presenting a united front shows your children that despite your differences, you're still a team when it comes to their well-being.
  • Honesty is Key (But Keep it Simple): Don't sugarcoat the situation, but avoid getting into grown-up details. Explain that your relationship with your partner isn't working anymore, and you'll be living separately.
  • Reassurance is Their Lifeline: Let your children know this isn't their fault. Reassure them that you both love them very much, and that will never change.
  • Answer Their Questions Honestly: Be prepared for a barrage of questions, some simple, some complex. Answer them honestly, but avoid overwhelming them with too much information.
  • Let Them Feel Their Feelings: Give your children space to express their emotions. They might be angry, sad, confused – all of these are valid responses. Be patient and create a safe space for them to open up.
  • Prepare for the Future (Without Overpromising): Outline any immediate changes, like living arrangements or custody schedules. However, avoid making promises you can't keep about things further down the line.

Remember, you don't have to do this alone. Seek support from therapists, counselors, coaches or trusted friends who can offer guidance and resources. There are also many children's books that can help you navigate this difficult conversation.

The truth is, there's no perfect way to break the news of a divorce. It will be a tough conversation, and it's okay to shed tears together. But by prioritising honesty, open communication, and unwavering love for your children, you can help them navigate this transition with resilience.

Here are some additional resources that might be helpful:

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