Explaining divorce to a child can be tricky and there’s no escaping the fact that it’s not going to be plain sailing.
They will have so many questions and may struggle to understand. However, while their questions might be tough to hear and difficult to answer, it’s important to know how to explain divorce to children to ease the trauma of the situation.
Leading psychologists say that explaining divorce to a child must come with plenty of love and reassurance throughout the process. One of the best ways to do this is to let your actions speak louder than your words. Give lots of hugs, be present, give your children attention, quality time, be kind and keep your promises.
Keep communication simple
One of the key things on how to explain divorce to children is to keep communication simple. Whether your child is eight or 18, make sure you explain things in a way that they understand. They don’t need to know all the complex details about your divorce. Simply explaining that your love for them won’t change is a good place to start.
Keep things civil
Although you’re getting divorced, it’s important that you and your spouse remain civil and respectful to each other, presenting a unified front when you’re both around your child(ren). As hard as it may be, you need to demonstrate that while your marriage is ending, as parents you are still present and communicating with each other.
For the sake of your child(ren), divorce doesn’t have to be a bitter battle that leads to struggle and pain. Nor should it lead to either party feeling ‘broken’. It’s up to you as a parent to set the tone.
Taking care of yourself during the divorce process means that you will be able to see your children through this difficult life stage too. Be a role model by remaining civil toward your former spouse, despite what they might throw at you.
Remember, every word and every action sends a message to your child(ren). Make sure you’re sending the right message.
Explain why the change is good for the family
It might be the case that in the build up to your divorce, your child(ren) may have witnessed arguments or noticed the tension between their parents. According to Psychology Today, this is a good time to explain that a divorce marks the start of a new chapter – for example, less fighting and greater stability – which will only benefit the entire family.
Explain that somethings won’t change
While divorce represents a huge shift in the way you will do family life, which is likely to leave your children feeling unsettled, make sure you explain to you child(ren) that somethings won’t change and will never change.
Psychology Today recommends using the following explanation: ‘Divorce means we won’t be married to each other anymore, but we still love you and we will be your parents forever. That hasn’t changed. That will never change. Even though mum and dad won’t be part of the same family, you and dad/mum will always be family, and you and me will always be family’.
Is there a proven way that shows the best way to explain divorce to children?
No. After all, every family is different and so is every child. There is no set formula that shows how to explain divorce to children. However, the tips above give you a starting point from which to respond to your child’s questions.
Support for your divorce
If you decide to get divorced, you can talk to Claire Holland and the team at Holland Family Law. Find their information in The Hug Directory.
We are a straight talking, professional family law firm who has helped hundreds of people manage the complexities of divorce, including where children are involved.