Tuesday, 2 February 2021

How to Break the News of Divorce to Your Kids

Getting divorced is a hard time for everyone involved, and having to explain the situation to your children can be the most difficult part. Here are some tips to do just that

When you decide to divorce your partner, you can have as many reasons as you want, but you need to know how to explain it to your children.


Being honest with your child by reassuring them that even though things will change, they’ll be okay, is the main sentiment you need to express. If you find it hard to do this alone, you can always request the help of family mediators to talk you through the process.  


In this post, we’re going to share some tips on how to break the news of divorce to your children. Then, we’ll give you some extra special advice on how to break it to children with special needs.


Tips on Breaking the News of Divorce to Your Children


Parents will always go into these conversations with the best intentions. That said, if you don’t approach it the right way, you could make the kids more upset about the divorce than they need to be. Here are some tips to help you take the right approach:

1. Do it together

It’s not fair on either parent to allow one of you to do all the hard work. It’s also not fair on your children who will want to hear from both parents why the marriage is ending.


Whatever issues the two of you still have, you did one thing right by bringing a child into this world and they deserve to hear the truth from both of you. You don’t have to get too heavy into the reasons, just explain that you tried your best but things didn’t work out.

2. Plan ahead

You could go into this divorce conversation blind, but it’s probably better for both of you to have some pre-prepared answers for any questions your children might have. ‘Where will we live?’, ‘Will we still be able to see both of you’, and any other questions you think they might ask should be discussed beforehand.


Getting your story straight is also a good idea because your child will likely remember this day for a long time. Having a consistent message from the two of you will help them come to terms with it.

3. Tell all your children at the same time

If you think telling your older children first because you’ll know they’ll take it better is a good idea, you might need to change tact. Having this conversation together as a family will allow them to lean on each other instead of dealing with the pain alone.


It’s also not fair to have one child know all about the divorce whilst their siblings are having fun and have no idea what’s actually happening.

4. Tell the children at home

Don’t break this news to your child in a public place or try to take them somewhere they enjoy to make the news of your divorce easier on them. All that’s going to do is have them associate something they enjoy with one of the most difficult days of their life.


Tell your children at home where they feel safe, where they can openly express their emotions, and where you can console them together.

5. Be honest

Be honest with your children; don’t tell them things they want to hear just to make the conversation easier. If you feel yourself lying to them for expediency, it will only hurt them more in the long term when they realise you weren’t truly honest with them.


You can be reassuring without making false promises that you can’t keep. Your children might be more upset now, but the honesty will help them get through this divorce easier than if they are strung along.

6. Expect bad reactions and be prepared

Children can react in all sorts of ways to the news of divorce, and you need to be prepared. Your children might:


·         Briefly cry but then act as if they didn’t hear it, hoping it will somehow sort itself out.

·         Keep changing the subject so they don’t have to face it.

·         Refuse to listen to what you’re saying altogether.

·         Cry for days.

·         Show no emotion whatsoever and bury the feelings.


You need to be prepared for all of these reactions and make sure they listen to what you have to say, comprehend it, and are ready for the future. Being clear about the divorce now will give them a solid foundation to grieve upon, and an understanding of the outcomes.


How to Break the Divorce News to a Child with Disabilities?


Now that we have some general tips on how to approach divorce with your children, it’s only fair that we discuss how to approach it with children who have special needs. Some tips include:

Understand your child’s specific needs

As the child’s parent, you understand your child’s condition better than anyone else, and know how they process personal and emotional information. You watched them grow and helped them develop their independence up until this point.


The way your child deals with the divorce is different across disabilities, but also within the same disability. No one child with Down syndrome will act the exact same way as another, so it’s up to you to devise the best way to break the divorce to your child.


Think about how they handle life and their condition already, how they might react to the information, and plan ahead for it.

Some general tips on how to approach the conversation

Depending on the specific disability your child faces, they might not comprehend the social intentions of what you’re saying. So, it’s crucial you handle the divorce in a way that doesn’t appear like you’re blaming them. Some important tips for this scenario are:


·         Be open to their questions, and answer carefully

·         Make sure they express their feelings and don’t internalise them

·         Make sure they know they are loved and cared for

·         Tell your children together if possible


Are You Ready to Break Your Divorce to Your Children?


In this post, we’ve managed to cover some top tips for explaining divorce to your children, with special attention to those with disabilities. Hopefully the advice we’ve shared here is useful, and you are prepared for one of the toughest, and most important, conversations of your life.

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