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Telling your children, you are getting divorced or separating is not easy and requires some sensitive handling. Here are seven tips that will help you tell the kids you are splitting up.

Please note the below is only intended to be a guide, as of course, every case is different. If there are any safeguarding concerns, you should seek immediate advice specific to your case, as the below is unlikely to be appropriate.

Tips on how to explain separation and divorce to your children

  • 1. Timing is important

    Make sure any decision to separate is final; changing your mind further down the line may be confusing and upsetting.

    Pick the right moment (well as close as you can get), when people are relaxed and calm. Avoid bedtime or school drop-off. You need to be able to answer all their questions and have the time to support them. Lots of hugs help.

  • 2. Tell them together

    Separation is even tougher on children if their parents are not on good terms. Try and sit down to tell them together. By doing so you are helping them to see that it is a joint decision and that you both care and are still in their lives.

  • 3. Keep it simple

    Young children don’t understand adult relationships. They may not know what separation or divorce means. So, keep your language simple and talk openly and honestly, leaving them out of any conflicts which may arise.

    Be clear about what will happen practically and changes to day-to-day life for the family. Children need structure and routine to feel safe. Explaining the changes will help prepare them. Many parents make a planner for the wall so the children can easily check when they are seeing each parent.

  • 4. Make it clear it's not their fault

    Children often think it’s their fault if their parents argue, so take time to reassure them that this is not their fault at all. Explain gently that separation is a difficult decision for adults and that it happens to a lot of families.

    Telling them it is tough at first but that things will get better, helps them to understand this is not forever; life and the family will move on.

  • 5. Don't play the blame game

    However, tempted you are to put your side of the story across, it will not help the situation. Don’t make it about who has done what. The most important thing is helping them to adjust and show them that you are both still there for them.

6. Don’t tell them everything – just what they need to know

In most cases, children don’t need to know the finer details. Hearing about an affair, financial worries, and other arguments will only cause more anxiety.

7. Constant reassurance

Finally, reassure them. Not just in this conversation but throughout the process. Love, security, safety and clear boundaries throughout the divorce process will help your children to deal with the divorce the best way they can.

Need some advice on talking to kids about divorce?

Our family solicitors will guide you through a separation/divorce and advise on the best options for you and assist with resolution of any questions or disputes which may arise in relation to the children.

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