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Advice for telling young children about divorce

You may have been having trouble with your spouse for years, and your children might not have ever realized that something was wrong. But now it's time to bring your marriage to a close, and you've finally decided -- once and for all -- that you'll be getting a divorce. How do you break the news to your young children?

If your children are between the ages of 5 and 8, this advice is for you:

  • Time it appropriately: You will not want to tell your children about your divorce plans until you're absolutely certain that you'll be breaking up. If you tell your child before you're sure, it could result in your child being confused. You'll also want to tell your child at a good time, when you know you'll be with him or her. Giving the news right before school, or right before bed -- when your child will be alone for some time -- is not the best because you won't be present to offer reassurance if questions arise.
  • Tell your child together: It's best to break the news to your child as a united front. That way you don't run the risk of sending mixed messages to your child. By using a few key phrases you can tell your child succinctly that "Mommy and Daddy have done some thinking, and we've decided to live separately." Be prepared to offer your child an idea of the visitation schedule so your child feels reassured about when he or she will spend time with both parents and how much time.
  • Make sure your child knows that this is not his fault: Children will sometimes take the burden of divorce on themselves. They'll think that the breakup was something that they're to blame for -- perhaps because they didn't clean their rooms or did something else. It's important to let your child know that the decision doesn't have anything to do with him or her. It's also important to let your child know that you and your spouse's love for them will never go away.

Do you have children and are you going through a divorce in North Carolina? A skilled divorce attorney can help you navigate the dissolution of your marriage in a swift, cost-effective and diplomatic fashion that honors the needs of both you and your children.

Source:, "How to tell your child you're getting divorced," Ziba Kashef, accessed July 21, 2017