Talking to Your Child About Divorce: Try This!

talking to your child about divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Talking to your child about divorce isn’t easy, but there’s something I want to share that I think is very helpful and beneficial.

We all have a story about how we met and fell in love with our ex’s. I call it a “Once upon a time” story. If you are a woman, you probably remember the exact day, the place, who you were with, where you were in your life at the time, and even what you were wearing. The details of that first meeting never fade.

Even if you are someone who can’t stand your ex, or you feel like you are over the relationship, or have resentment or anger, and even if he or she wronged you so much you can barely stand it, that once upon a time story still happened. You can’t change the past.


You may not want to think about it because it’s too painful. You may want to block it out because he or she turned out to be a completely different person than you thought. It may disgust you to recall the memories of those passionate kisses that took your breath away, only to see him or her now and be completely repulsed to the point you might throw up.


Here’s my point. Despite any bad feelings you have now, I think it’s important to remember the story, and here’s why.


Don’t get mad, but if you haven’t done this already, I think you should tell it to your kids.

In fact, I think you should tell it to your kids over and over and over again. Why? Because I did that and it made my daughter so happy, it was beautiful to see.

One night several years ago, she was lying in bed, and she asked me to tell her a bedtime story. I’m not really sure what made me choose my “Once upon a time” story with my ex, but I began telling her about the first time her dad and I met, and I went into all the funny details about meeting him and what I was feeling, and how he asked me out, and even the first time we ever kissed.


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Telling that story to my daughter didn’t make me upset or angry about the way things are now. What it did was bring me back to a time in my life with him when we were truly happy and in love. And that was nice.

Even more importantly, it made my daughter so happy, I almost cried. I could see the excitement and anticipation on her little face, I could see her hopeful expression, the joy in her eyes that her parents really did love each other at one time and that’s why she was born.

She wanted to hear the story over and over again, and I’ve probably told it to her about 100 times since.

I’m not a psychiatrist or therapist, but what I can tell you as a mother is, kids want to hear that their parents were once in love, and that they loved each other enough to actually have babies together. They want and need to hear that there was a time their parents connected and acted completely differently than they do now. I think it makes them feel more loved and secure.



Kids get tired of seeing their divorced parents at odds. Even if you never argue in front of your kids, there might be feelings of awkwardness and distance that they get. Every time you don’t say hello to each other, every time you use that formal tone when you are telling your ex something, or when he uses that tone with you. You may not realize it but it wears on them.

To this day, I constantly watching my kids’ faces when my ex and I are in the same room, or at school or sporting events. They are absorbing everything. I see their moods when we are not getting along. I see their moods when we are getting along. They are so much happier and more relaxed when they see peace between their parents.

So, telling the kids your “Once upon a time” story will give them a sense of security. When they hear that you adored your ex’s beautiful eyes, it will make them think THEY have those beautiful eyes, too. And when they hear that your ex said he loved your laugh, they will realize that THEY love your laugh, too. And when they hear that you and your ex once stayed up all night talking, they’ll understand more why they were born.



If you were a kid, wouldn’t it mean everything to you to hear those things? Wouldn’t it be a nice, refreshing break from the animosity that sadly enough is part of their everyday lives? Wouldn’t it be nice that instead of talking to your child about divorce, and telling them things your therapist (or their therapist) told you to say, that you could give them the gift of their parents’ loving relationship at one time?

Please, put your current feelings aside, and tell your kids your “Once Upon a Time” story, and I promise you, if you can tell it over and over again, and compartmentalize that from what you feel today, you will have a better chance of living happily ever after, and so will your kids.

The End.

Like this article? Check out, “20 Things You Might Want To Say To Your Kids”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    One Response to “Talking to Your Child About Divorce: Try This!”

    1. makenna

      i just started a new blog after being in the middle of a divorce when I was 10 i’m now 12 and i thought that it might be helpful to other kids who are going through what I was also just wanted to say, whatever you do don’t make your kid the messenger: it isn’t fun


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