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Talking to young children about divorce

Most school-aged children know what divorce is because they've heard about it from their friends at school. However, that doesn't make it any easier to tell your child that you and their other parent are parting ways.

By following some helpful tips, parents can navigate the divorce conversation with their young children in a way that helps them feel safe and loved. If your children are between the ages of 5 and 8, here are some useful approaches for talking about divorce.

Time your conversation appropriately. The most important thing in terms of timing is to make sure that you do not tell the kids that you're planning a divorce right before they leave for school. Also, don't tell them about divorce until it's a certainty. Finally, consider telling them a few days before you or the other parent actually moves out of the home.

Present a united front. If at all possible, both parents should talk to their children together about the divorce. This helps kids feel a sense of togetherness, like this is something that the family is experiencing together. They will feel more secure when they know that both mom and dad are in agreement.

Keep things simple. Children don't need to hear a complicated explanation. They just need to understand that mom and dad have considered this decision carefully, and have decided to live in different houses. Reassure your children of their future living arrangements. Tell them where they'll be living and how often they'll see each parent. Adjust your conversation for the age and maturity of your children.

Following the above pieces of advice can be helpful when addressing divorce with your children. It also helps when both parents commit to resolve their divorces peacefully through mediation or out-of-court settlements. A more diplomatic approach to divorce makes the process easier on every member of the family.

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