How to Tell Your Kids About the Divorce

Most parents find telling their kids about the divorce one of the most difficult and anticipated parts of the process. If you and your spouse decide to divorce, you may find yourself reading articles like this one to help guide you through the conversation. 

Children are sensitive to significant life changes, like divorce. Their parents’ splitting can potentially impact their parental attachments and how they act in future romantic relationships. However, divorce can be positive for children. In many cases, divorce means the start of a more honest and authentic life for everyone involved. 

When handled appropriately, the conversation about getting a divorce can help children go through the process positively alongside you and your spouse.

Here are some tips to help tell your kids about the divorce:


Spend Time Planning

Do not wake up one morning and tell your soon-to-be-ex that you would like to tell the kids as soon as possible. Rather, tell your spouse that you would like to meet, preferably in person, to develop a plan to restructure the family in a way that would make the most sense for everyone and be in the best interest of the children. Then, carefully consider the age and developmental stage of each child. Outline and practice a script, leaving room for natural adaptations and questions. Be mindful that this moment has the potential to stick with your children for a long time. This is not to scare you, but to remind you of the importance of planning. Be sure to include your spouse in any revised thoughts or words so that they are not blind-sighted or become reactive during this critical conversation.


Maintain a Unified Front With Your Spouse

Even if this is the only aspect of the divorce you can agree upon, and even if you feel angry and betrayed by your spouse, put your resentment aside for the sake of your children and urge your ex to do the same. This can be easier to say and harder to execute. Just remember that research shows parental harmony is the single most significant arbiter of child success post-divorce.


Relay the Story With No Blame

Take the time to explain the story of how you and your spouse have come to this decision without offering too much detail, and tailor the conversation to the ages of their children. Try to be brief, but the story behind the marriage and why it is ending can help children better understand why this change is occurring. Describe the reasons for divorce from a high-level perspective and do not blame either party. This can put children in an uncomfortable position with one parent. Explain that despite the change in marital status, they will continue to be part of and loved by the same family.


Have the Conversation When the Whole Family Can Be Together Without a Rush

Leave time after the discussion for not only questions but also a “normal,” enjoyable family activity following this intense and emotional conversation. For example, you can take young children to the playground together to allow them space to relax and process their emotions. This also shows the children that their parents can continue to get along and maintain a family unit to support them as they grow up.


Explain How the Divorce Will Impact Your Children’s Routines

Your children will want to know how the divorce will change their daily lives and routines. Prepare an initial plan with your spouse to ensure your children’s lives and daily routines are impacted as little as possible. For example, if your family has traditions, like going to their grandparents every Sunday for dinner, assure them that these traditions will continue—even if one spouse may no longer be in attendance. If your children are in different life stages, consider meeting with them individually to answer questions and discuss how their lives will be impacted moving forward. Every age will require a different level of explanation and honesty.

We hope you find these tips useful. Remember, the goal is to mindfully plan for this conversation and present it as a unit to help ensure your children are happy and healthy in the long term.

If you have questions about divorce, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
Maryland Child Custody Laws
Division of Property in Maryland Divorce
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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