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Choose Your Words Carefully When Explaining Divorce to Kids

Posted on in Children of Divorce

Choose Your Words Carefully When Explaining Divorce to KidsThere is not an easy way to tell your children that you are getting a divorce. Younger children may have difficulty understanding what a divorce is and what it means for them. Older children may be angry because they think they know what the divorce means. Either way, your children are likely to be upset about your divorce. As parents, you must be sensitive to their feelings when breaking the news. Handling it in the wrong way can cause your children to become more upset than they need to be.


Though it may be difficult, you must be honest with your children about your divorce. Avoiding their questions or lying about the consequences of your divorce may temporarily spare their feelings. However, they will eventually learn the truth and feel betrayed because you lied to them. Children do not need to know every aspect of your divorce but should understand the parts that affect them. You should make it clear to your children that:

  • You and their other parent will live in different homes;
  • Your time with them will be separate from the other parent;
  • They might not see you as often as before; and
  • The divorce does not change the fact that you love them.


Younger children may not understand some of the words used to explain a divorce. Terms, such as parenting time, parental responsibilities and even divorce, may be foreign to them. You can still use these terms but should carefully explain them in a way that your children will understand. Use vocabulary that your children are familiar with. You may want to employ examples or stories that help them visualize what you are telling them.


You may be angry at your spouse, but you should try to hide that feeling when explaining the divorce to your children. This means not insulting or blaming each other. Your children look up to both of their parents, and disparaging remarks can hurt that important relationship. Your children are likely to ask you why you are getting divorced. You can say that you do not get along anymore, which sometimes happens with people who are married.


Children best learn new information in smaller doses, with time in between for them to process it. Having a long conversation about your divorce may overwhelm them. Instead, you can start by explaining the most important facts about the divorce, and then encourage an open dialogue. Be receptive to your children’s questions about divorce as they come up.

Parenting Negotiations

The allocation of parental responsibilities is one of the most important and emotional parts of a divorce settlement. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can lead you through the negotiations. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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