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Tips on Discussing Divorce With Kids



Last year my marriage was in shambles and we were on the brink of a divorce. As a matter of fact I consulted with a divorce attorney and learned all I needed to know. Divorce can be stressful, confusing and extremely sad for children, regardless of their age, and kids start to have feelings of uncertainty or anger when they think about their parents living apart.  While divorce isn’t a great feeling for anyone involved, even when it’s an amicable one, as the parent you can work to help kids cope with divorce as a means to ensure a stable transition for them as they learn to have a positive attitude towards sharing parents who no longer reside together. There will be a lot of bumps and tears along the path, but you can survive discussing divorce with your kids if you follow some of these tips below.


Set the Moment – before you even muster the news to your children think about this defining moment, this memory will stay with them for years to come. As a parent take the time to discuss with your soon to be ex how you will spill the news to your children in a way that won’t traumatize them anymore than necessary.


Think About What you Will Say – as a united front both parents need to come to an agreement on what they will say to their kids when discussing divorce, again this will be a defining moment for your kids so choose your words wisely and be certain to not pass blame to either parent nor kids during this discussion.

Tell All Kids at Once – more often than not parents will select the oldest child to break the news to first, this can lead to trouble with added stress to keep this adult secret from their siblings. Be sure to sit all of the kids down at once to discuss this family unit change at one time, this helps the siblings react together when they hear the news versus adding guilt by one kid knowing first.


Expect Mixed Responses – all kids respond to the news of divorce differently, a younger child may not completely grasp what divorce means while an older child may feel a mixed bag of emotions as they are already dealing with puberty and hormone roller-coasters. Have compassion for how each kid responds and work with them through these emotions.

Allow Open Questions – once you have opened the can of worms that you will be divorcing, allowing the kids to ask open questions, engage in a conversation with them while still thinking about your answers before speaking. Help answer questions in a reassuring and positive light so that your kids can quickly overcome and embrace this change to their best abilities.


Divorce is never an easy subject, it’s heartbreaking to both the parents and the children when a marriage has dissolved, but you can work to follow these tips for discussing divorce with kids as a means to lessen the burden upon them, as you transition into a new lifestyle of co-parenting.

Tomorrow I'll be discussing how co-parenting can hurt more than you.

Let's discuss: What other tips can you think of that can help with this sensitive topic?

Annmarie John
66 Comments
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66 comments:

  1. My kids were too little when I got divorced, so they grew up this way :)

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    1. Sometimes it's best when its done young, that way there are no bad memories.

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  2. I can relate to this post so much in that we were close to divorce. There were and still are a lot of issues. Our marriage could be much better, but oh well.

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    1. You sound very much like me. Marriage counseling helped us but we can be so much better. We have a lot of issues to work out still and we're working on them. All the best to you.

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  3. These are great tips! Divorce is a hard thing to go through, but I think if the parents can at least get a long to go along instead of fighting will make a big difference for the kids!

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    1. That is very true Jacqui, and divorce is difficult not just on the adults but the kids as well.

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  4. I remember when you were going through that rough time. It's awesome that you gained wisdom from it. My daughter's best friend went through a terrible time with her parents getting divorced. It doesn't always have to be like that!

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    1. It really doesn't and Tamara you were one of the few that I confided in because it was so tough. There are so much you need to take into consideration before filing.

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  5. My daughter and her husband got a divorce when my grand daughter was a baby. I can't imagine how hard a divorce would be on older children. Your advice is valuable for divorced families.

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    1. Oh it can be tough. While I'm not a product of divorce, my parents were married till they day they died a few years apart from each other, I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like if they had gotten a divorce. I'd have been devastated.

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  6. I never gone through something like this myself, but have seen others. I think you have to be honest with your kids but also keep it age appropriate. And no matter what don't bad mouth the other person.

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    1. Oh yes most definitely keep it age appropriate. The kids don't need to get all the details but at least also keep it honest and let them know that it wasn't their fault.

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  7. I work with kids whose parents have divorced. From their reactions, I think their parents could have used these tips

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    1. A lot of parents do need all the help they can get when they have kids involved. Hopefully this post may help a few of them.

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  8. It's not something that anyone would want to happen between two people. Of course the kids will be affected greatly, emotionally and mentally. These are very good pointers, you shouldn't leave any kid behind and you should be open to the topic, simply telling them is not good enough.

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    1. It really isn't. When you get married, you get married because you fell in love and want to be with that person for the rest of your life. It not only affects the parents but the kids deeply as well.

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  9. That has to be a very tough conversation to have with your children. That are really great tips on how to do it!

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    1. Yes it can be and just remember, keep it simple and don't say anything that you'll regret.

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  10. I have not been through anything like this, but I love that you gave succinct ways to deal with this. The kids can really be affected.

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    1. Yes they really can be and you have to remember it's not all about you.

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  11. I can't imagine having to go through this. But, I do think it is important to look past differences to join a united front for the benefit of the kids in this situation. Great tips.

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    1. Yes that is true. Don't focus on just your feelings, think about the children.

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  12. Divorce is not an easy situation. My parents were divorced and I can say the biggest thing is to not lose sight of the kids and what they are going through. It's easy for them to get caught in the middle. Great read.

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    1. Yes it is not easy at all and don't focus on yourself, think of the kids as well. Thanks for stopping by Khrista.

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  13. I pray that I never have to have this discussion with my kids. Coming from a family with divorced parents myself, I know how hard that is.

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    1. And I hope that you never have to either but be prepared. Sometimes these things happen out of nowhere.

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  14. My kids were happy when I filed for divorce, but it was an abusive relationship. My husband's children had mixed emotions. My ex is not involved with my now-adult children. However, my husband's kids are still children. I've seen horrific things said about us to the kids since the divorce. Sometimes, what happens after the divorce is just as devastating as what happens during.

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    1. That's entirely different. No-one should ever put up with abuse in a relationship, whether it's physical, verbal etc. I'm happy that you were able to get out whole and you're right, the after can be just as devastating if you have a spiteful parent in the mix.

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  15. Thank you for your thoughtful post. This is indeed a very difficult topic. I understand how it can be very hard on everyone.

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    1. Yes it can be difficult on everyone involved.

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  16. These are great tips! I think divorce is a hard thing to go through parents should do their best to keep the kids out of drama!

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    1. If there's drama then yes, but you should always involve the kids and let them know what's going on if you're getting a divorce. Prepare them for the inevitable.

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  17. Great tips. Kids have to go through things like this every day.

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    1. Yes there are children going through this daily but these tips can help you prepare them.

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  18. Divorce is so tough on everyone as you said. Our kids have friends that are going through a divorce and even that affected proximity affected our kids and began a lot of questions. I hope I never need these but I think these are very good tips.
    Traci

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    1. Oh Traci it does affect even friends. I remember the first time my daughter asked me about divorce because her friend's parent were going through one.

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  19. A divorce can be difficult on everybody, especially the children so it's important to let them know that in no way are they to blame for the divorce. Let the children know why the divorce is happening and what to expect moving forward.

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    1. That's absolutely correct Lori. We have to let them know that no matter what happens because the parents, the kids aren't to be blamed at all. It's not their fault.

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  20. Divorce is so hard for everyone involved but talking about the situation is crucial.

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    1. Yes it surely is! Thanks for stopping by.

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  21. While I haven't experienced this in my own life I know of several of my friends that went through this as kids.
    It was just awful to see a family breakdown like that. :(

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    1. Oh I can't even begin to imagine what it was like. Even when I was having my own marriage difficulties it was tough for everyone.

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  22. These are some wonderful tips. I can still remember when my parents went through a divorce. I don't know why, but it never really seemed to bother me. I knew it was coming, but I can understand how hard it can be for some kids.

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    1. You're one of the few that wasn't affected. I know my youngest would truly be affected if it did happen.

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  23. It will always be not easy, both for parents and kids. But somehow, I can imagine how the blow is softened with all these suggestions.

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    1. You're absolutely correct, it will never be easy, no matter what but yes it can be softened with our tips.

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  24. Thank you for the tips! Families going through that difficult time will appreciate this.

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    1. You're very welcome Tara and thank you for reading.

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  25. Telling things like this to kids is not easy. You have to be careful not to bring worry to them.

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    1. Yes it can be very difficult indeed and you don't want them to worry that it was their fault, so that's why it's a good idea to talk to them.

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  26. Divorce sucks. Even when it's better for you (whether you initially knew it or not) it still sucks for the kids. I think it leaves holes in their hearts not to have a parent they love around much anymore. Especially true if the other parent doesn't want to be present.

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    1. That is so true Rosey and when that parent has been around all their lives, living in the same household, it's really tough.

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  27. Divorce can be really be painful. I hope that all parents have the chance to discussed it to their children.

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    1. You would hope so but not all do unfortunately. :(

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  28. It is very important that you tell your kids stuff that sounds not nice so they will be aware of it. Thanks for the tips.

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    1. Yes it's really your job to do it and not others around you.

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  29. This is such a sensitive issue that must be really handled well specially when kids are involved. Agree with all your points in here.

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    1. Thank you Ron. It really is a sensitive subject and must be handled as such.

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  30. Yes, it sure is a sensitive issue. I think it is important to talk to the kids and let them know that mommy and daddy still love them.

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    1. No matter what they should always be reassured that they're loved.

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  31. Hopefully this is a topic we will never have to discuss with our children. I am a child of divorce but I had just turned 6 years old when it happened and my sister was only 2. There are many, MANY things I do not know and many things I do remember that my parents probably never knew that I DID know. I don't remember at all them telling me about divorce though. I can't for the life of me figure out how I knew and how it happened. Luckily, if there was any issues between them, they took care of it away from us so we never had to see it. They have always been friendly around us & are friends to this day.

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    1. That is great that they remained friends. So many don't ever want to talk to the other after it's all over with. I hope you never have to have that discussion either.

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  32. I think Divorce is a sensitive issue and letting the kids know about is is really not easy. You really have to explain it to them.

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    1. It's not easy for anyone but it will be even more difficult explaining it to the kids, but it has to be done and you're the one that has to do it.

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  33. My divorce was hardest on our youngest - he was 2 at the time and even now at almost 8 years old he struggles with missing us - aka missing Dad when with Mama and vice versa. Thankfully we work to keep co-parenting a positive experience and even though our divorce included legal write ups of visits, child support, etc - we have sort of always just done our own thing. If time allows - such as no school days - we always let the kids go to Dads or be with me, whatever they want within reason. The judge even told us one time that he wishes more co-parents came into his courtroom as easy to work with as us, even with my having a different relationship, our co-parenting just works. The divorce was a little different was one son is autistic so he is just the black & white, it is what it is thinker and our youngest was only 2 so he was confused ... he had a few angry moments back then - I recall lashing out at me saying he wanted to live with Daddy. It was so sad to watch it unfold but we worked together to make it be as peaceful for them as possible.

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry Brandy, I can't even begin to imagine how stressful that was. I have an 11 yr old son who is also autistic and my daughter is currently 4 and very much attached to her dad. I know it will affect her probably more than my son but no matter what it will be stressful.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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