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When should you tell your kids about your divorce?

Divorce can be hard on everyone in the family, but it can be especially hard on kids. As a parent, you may hesitate to tell your children about your divorce because you do not want to cause them pain. However, it is often better to tell kids about divorce sooner rather than later.

If you are sure your divorce is happening, it may already be the right time to tell your children about it. It may also be time to tell your kids if, in the next month or two, you or your spouse plan to move out of the marital home or your custody agreement will go into effect.

Considerations when choosing a time

There may never be a great time to tell your kids about your divorce. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing when to tell them. You may try to tell them at a time:

  • You and your spouse can both be present
  • Your family is not rushed to get to work, school or other activities
  • That is not too close to birthdays or holidays
  • That is not close to your child's bedtime

It also matters how you tell them

When you and your spouse break the news to your children, try to keep the message simple. Try to create a unified message that does not lay blame on either parent or your children.

You may also consider using age appropriate language. Children at different ages will have different abilities to understand what divorce is. In addition, each child's personality and previous life experiences may also influence his or her reaction. You may expect that your children may each have different reactions.

Some children may be worried about when they may see each parent. If you know when a parent may be moving out, it may be beneficial to share this with your children. Explaining what your custody arrangement might look like can also help address this concern.

It may take some children time to fully understand what is happening. You may consider having several short conversations about divorce with your children. Regardless of the number of conversations you have, it is important that you and your children's other parent both reassure your kids that both parents love them and that the divorce is not any child's fault.

It can be difficult for kids to hear that their parents are divorcing, and many kids struggle with change. However, most kids adjust well to divorce over time. By mindfully choosing the time and manner in which you tell your kids about your divorce, you can help them better adjust to your family's new normal.

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