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How to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce

One of the hardest things parents going through a divorce have to face is telling their children about the divorce. There are no easy answers and no single answer on how to do it. The parents need to plan how and when to talk with the kids about the divorce.

Here are 7 tips about how to tell your children about an impending divorce:

1. Right mood. Timing is important. Make sure both parents and the children are not tired, hungry, busy, upset or preoccupied.

2. Right time. The conversation should be before someone moves out. It shouldn't be too long before the move-out and not too close to the time, either. A discussion at the start of a weekend, when both parents will be around for the weekend, can be a good time. That allows the children to process the information and be able to talk with each parent, if they want to.

3. Right people. Both parents should be there and involved in the discussion. “We” should be used, rather than creating a blame situation, as appealing as that might seem to the “leavee”.

4. Right reasons. Blame should not be discussed. It's better to say something like, “We aren't getting along and we can't fix it.” That's a true statement and it doesn't attach blame. There's no need to be too specific.

5. Right response. Listen to the children and respond to their questions. Use age appropriate words and statements. Answer their questions truthfully, but without assigning blame or giving a lot of details.

6. Right (amount of) information. Don't explain too much or give many details about what's wrong. But, don't leave any hope of reconciliation. If it is a surprise to the kids, they will need time to work through the idea of divorce.

7. Right planning. Be able to explain how it will affect the children. That will probably be their biggest concern. Will they have to move? Where will they go to school? Will there be enough money? Etc. Don't over-promise and don't discuss issues that are undecided. It's OK to not have everything figured out.

Most kids probably have friends whose parents have divorced. Your kids have likely discussed divorce with other children at different times and may have thought about how it might affect their lives. Don't be surprised if you get some strange, specific questions, or no questions at the start. The discussion will probably extend over some time, so just keep these suggestions in mind.