How to Tell Your Child that You Are Getting a Divorce©


 1.  The parents tell the children together.

 2.  The parents select a time when the children will have some time to adjust before they are required to be somewhere or do something.  For instance, after lunch on Saturday about 2 pm and nothing is planned for the evening. 

 3.  The parents take turns talking.  So that the children see that both parents support this decision. 

 Example of what to say:  “(Parent 1 says) your mother and I have made a decision that we want to share with you.  We have thought very carefully about this decision.  There is nothing that you can do that will change our minds. 

 Your mother and I have decided that we respect, honor, and value each other.  But we have decided that we cannot live together in the same house any longer.  When parents can no longer live together then they get a divorce.  Your mother and I are getting a divorce.”

 4.  The children must understand that

                 A.            Both of their parents will always love them.

                 B.            It is not the child’s fault that the parents are getting a divorce. 

                 C.            No matter what the child does, the parents are going to divorce.  There is nothing that a child can do to prevent the divorce.

 Example of what to say:  “(Parent 2 says) your father and I want you to know that we both love you and always will love you – no matter what.  Also, we want you to know that it is not your fault that we are getting a divorce.  You have not done anything at all to cause this divorce.

 No matter what you do you cannot stop us from divorcing.  So, please do not even try.  Do you have any questions?”

 A child will have questions.  Either Parent 1 or Parent 2 can answer all of these questions.

 Some Questions that a Child May Have

1.  Mommy, are you getting a divorce because you love someone else?  Daddy, are you getting a divorce because you love someone else?

 Example of what to say:  “We are getting a divorce because we realize that we cannot live together any more.  That is not the same as loving someone else.  The specific reasons why mommy and daddy are getting a divorce is an adult subject.  Mommy and daddy do not discuss adult subjects with a child. 

 What you need to know is that we thought about it very carefully together.  And both of us decided that we are going to divorce…Do you have any other questions?”  

 And they probably will.  Questions like

 2.  Where am I going to live?

 Example of what to say:  “Sometimes you will live with mommy, and sometimes you will live with daddy.   We will work it out.”

 3.  Am I still going to the same school? 

 Example of what to say:  “Sure.  Nothing about your school changes.”

 4.  Can I have my friends over?

 Example of what to say:  “Sure.  Whenever mommy or daddy can do that.”

 5.  Can I still go see my grandparents/aunt and uncle/cousins? 

 Example of what to say:  “Sure.  Whenever mommy or daddy can do that.

 6.  Where is the dog/cat going to live? 

 Example of what to say:  “The dog/cat lives where s/he lives now.  The apartment does not let your dad have pets.”

 What Else Can You Do?

Here are some thoughts.  You will think of more things to do that fit your particular family, friends, school and church.

 1.  Does your child know anyone whose parents have divorced – perhaps a friend or relative?

 2.  Consult your school counselor.  You might want to know

                 A.            Does your child’s school counselor know some

children whose parents have divorced?

                 B.            Does s/he know of a support group for children going through divorce?

                 C.            Does s/he meet with children who are going through divorce?

                 D.            Will s/he meet with you and advise you?                          

3.  Consult your church.  What programs does the church have for kids?

 4.  Have a counselor read Dinosaur’s DivorceThat way a child can talk to the counselor about what s/he feels without worrying that s/he is making a parent feel bad about talking about something that is painful to the parent, too. 

 5.  A counselor can meet with a child and mom – or a child and dad. 

 6.  What questions do you want to ask that you don’t see here?