How to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce: 17 Things to Say

how to tell your kids about divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

Thinking about how to tell your kids about the divorce? That is perhaps the most heartbreaking and difficult aspect of a divorce. As parents, we are all so protective of our children, both physically and emotionally, and the last thing a parent wants to do is deliver news about divorce to the children that will cause unavoidable fear, hurt and sadness.

 

Every child reacts differently to hearing from his or her parents that mommy and daddy are getting divorced. Some kids cry, some bottle it up and pretend to be OK, some kids get angry and act out at home or school, some regress emotionally, and some do and say things completely out of character. It’s a very unsettling time for both children and their parents.

 

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Just like adults, kids are fearful of the unknown, and that they feel the anxiety of the divorce, specifically of having to juggle two homes, having two single parents, being “different” from other kids, and feeling unsure that both parents are going to be there for them in the future just like they are now.

 

The good news is, once both parents are settled in their new homes and lives, the kids tend to be relieved and even happier than they were at the end of their parents marriage, because they no longer have to bear the burden of the underlying tension, arguments and the coldness they saw in their mom and dad towards one another. It’s the time when healing and adapting to the new normal can begin. But until that time, it’s extremely difficult to watch your kids in pain.

 

 

So, how do you tell your kids about the divorce?

Here are 17 things you can say to your kids in the hours, days and weeks after you and your soon-to-be-ex tell them about your divorce:

 

1. There are going to be lots of changes, but here is what won’t change. My love for you and your mom’s (or dad’s) love for you. Both are constant and ever lasting.

2. This must be really, really scary for you. I get it. But you won’t feel this way for very long.

3. I’m here for you, whatever you need from me.

4. I will talk to you and listen to you for as long as you need.

5. I will hug you as much as you want.

6. I will pray with you.

7. I’ve got you.

 

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8. Every kid knows kids who have divorced parents. They aren’t going to be as surprised as you think they are, because you aren’t their first friend to tell them your parents are getting divorced.

9. We are still a family filled with love. That will never change.

10. You are special and you mean everything to me. I feel such gratitude that I’m your mom (or dad.)

11. If you are angry, that’s OK. But get it out. Tell someone. I can be that person if you want. You can yell and scream and hit something if you need to.

12. It’s OK to cry. It’s a good thing, actually, even for boys.

 

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13. You can ask me a million questions, even the same ones over and over again and I will answer you.

14. If you heard me on the phone with someone or you saw me crying, ask me about it. I will be honest with you.

15. I will always love mom (or dad’s) family because they will always be your family and they love you so much.

16. Things are going to be sad for a little while and then down the road, they won’t be anymore.

17. The best thing I ever did was have you.

I’m not saying that these are the end-all and the answers to your problems. I just feel like I know how kids of divorce think, and I know that if I were a kid, these are things that would comfort and soothe me tremendously. Of course, in addition to comforting kids with words, countless hugs and kisses are good too.

 

Like this article? Check out, “6 Benefits of Mediation for Kids”

5 Tips for Coparenting with Someone Who Hurt You

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

6 Responses to “How to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce: 17 Things to Say”

  1. Drew

    Great advice for someone worried about how to tell their kids. Parents can be just as scared about how their kids will react to the news as a child might be. You didn’t really address what age children would be comforted by these things but I would assume it applies to younger children. I can’t imagine older children who can grasp what’s going on would want to hear you dance around the situation. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

      This advice does apply to young children, but I think children of any age would be comforted by these things, (possibly said a little bit differently for older kids.) Plus, I don’t think anyone is dancing around the situation. These are things to say AFTER the straightforward, honest, open talk.

      Reply
  2. PBCLEGAL

    Yes , dealing with these such family issues is really difficult to handle especially when you have kids. You need to be more careful in making them understand the situation as it might affect their mental health.

    Reply
  3. Whitfield

    Reassurance and open communication are very important I believe as well and I love your 17 Ideas, especially letting them know their emotions matter and it’s okay to feel them.

    Reply
  4. divorce attorney west palm beach

    The process of divorce is termed as “dissolution of marriage” in Florida. Either spouse may file to end a marriage through dissolution. Florida is among the states that do not assign fault in this process. The only grounds permitted for a dissolution is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

    Reply

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