What to say to children about divorce

Parenting and Children is a crucial cornerstone for the Equal Exes programme.  I am often asked when clients are going through the divorce/separation process what they should say and what they should not say to their children about their impending divorce or separation.  This article will help you sort out your own thoughts and plan what to say. Parenting Cornerstone, divorce coach,

How to tell your kids you are divorcing or separating

What you say to them really depends on the age of the children.  Older children will have a different understanding than younger ones.

Since there are stages that you may go through from separate bedrooms through to actually moving out of the family home, we suggest some ways you can tell your kids about what is happening.

The table below will give you a guideline as to what to say to your children at whatever their age.

How to tell children about divorce


When you have decided to divorce – what to say

This is a really challenging time for you.  We’ve got your back – keep on reading this article and get a pen and paper ready to write down your thoughts as you go.

This table sets out general principles which you can use to plan the discussion with your children.

There are some things you and your ex will need to agree beforehand so that what you tell the children is very clear and they can understand it.

Tell kids about divorce plan



How to plan what you tell the kids

Thinking about the best interests of your children, there are some do’s and don’ts in relation to what you say to your children about your divorce/separation.

Going through a divorce can take from 18 months to 2 years and there are some clear stages which you will pass through. We set out below some areas where you can plan ahead about what to say to the kids – again, it’s usually best to agree these messages with your ex ahead of time.

This article is an extract from our What to Say To The Kids ebook. Buy here.

There are also a number of common worries that children have when they are in the middle of this difficult process.  

What Your Children Should Know

  1. What the plan is for them.
  2. When the divorce is final.
  3. How to best reach both parents at all times.
  4. If there is a plan for either parent to remarry.
  5. If a parent has an addiction or mental health disorder.
What Your Children Should NOT Be Told
  1. If a parent has been unfaithful.
  2. Anything about the court filings and proceedings unless there has been a decision that directly impacts their lives.
  3. The financial details.
  4. Negative things one parent feels about the other parent.

What Your Children Will Be Worrying About

  1. Missing the other parent.
  2. What will happen to them.
  3. Parents fighting/arguing.
  4. Not having a family.
  5. It’s all their fault.
  6. Transitions – when and how
    1. Not having enough time with either parent.
    2. How major events will be shared with both parents
  7. Managing their friends and activities.

What Children Usually Know

  1. That there has been an affair.
  2. That the divorce was coming.
  3. That one parent has an addiction or mental health disorder.
  4. That their parents don’t like each other.

Get more help with Children and  Parenting

Parenting Cornerstone, divorce coach,Equal Exes Online has written 8 Cornerstones which explain situations that develop during separation and divorce. Parenting and Children is one cornerstone.Parenting workbook for divorce cover

Go to our Cornerstone page Parenting and Children and take the quiz to work out your situation.

There’s also a Parenting Workbook to help you work out your own needs on the same page.


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