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How do I Tell the Kids About Separation and Divorce?

by Candice Coleman, studioD

The end of a marriage can present several new problems, including breaking the news of your separation and divorce to your children. Though the conversation can be difficult, it can help your children better adjust to the changes in their lives. Knowing when to have the discussion, and how to support your children afterward, may improve the bonds between you and your children.


Before you approach your children about separation and divorce, you and your spouse should talk and confirm that this is how you wish to go forward, according to HealthyChildren. You and your spouse should also consider having the conversation with the children together. Blaming the other parent for the split or airing personal details relating to it, like mentioning that one parent had an affair, should be off-limits, according to Unifam Counseling and Mediation.


When it comes to the conversation, ensure that it happens with all of your children present in person. Keep the message simple for younger children: explain that you will be living in a different house from the other parent because you have trouble getting along, according to KidsHealth. Older children may better understand the concept of divorce and separation. Explanations about how your children's daily lives will change and where they will live are also key to this conversation. Honesty is important -- if you have not yet made a decision or if you do not want to answer a particular question, say so.


No matter how you tell your children about the divorce, they are likely to feel fear and sadness. Parents should avoid telling children not to cry, according to HealthyChildren. It is important that children are allowed to ask questions and express their emotions, however difficult it may be for you to hear it. During this time, finding support from family and friends may help you avoid speaking negatively to your children about their other parent, according to Family Relationships Online.

Additional Information

If finding the rights words to say to your children about separation and divorce prove difficult, a marriage counselor or therapist can help you prepare for the discussion. Talking with divorced parents about how you can approach the topic, or what resulted from their discussions with their children, can also be useful for parents looking to separate and divorce, according to Family Relationships Online.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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