Helping Chicagoland families transition from bad situations to bright futures.

Breaking the news of your divorce to your child

Among the many heartbreaks when a marriage ends in divorce is the bewilderment and sadness the children may experience. When discussing the changes that are ahead for your Illinois family, you will want to find the gentlest and most appropriate way to console your child while sharing the information he or she needs to hear.

As difficult as it may be for you, your child may need to hear from your own lips what is about to happen to the family. It may not be possible to break the news without also breaking the child’s heart, but you can take steps to reduce the anxiety and confusion your child may feel.

A very difficult conversation

Undoubtedly, if you and your spouse have been struggling in your marriage, it has not escaped the notice of your children, no matter how young they may be. Nevertheless, they may not understand the implications of your quarrels, absences and silent dinners, and this is why a heartfelt talk is important. In addition to the cold facts, you will want to be certain to include the following details, some of which bear repeating many times in the weeks and months to come:

  • Acknowledge that you and your spouse are having troubles.
  • Never speak ill of the other parent to the child or where the child can overhear.
  • Assure the child that the divorce is not his or her fault.
  • Confront the fact that some things are going to change.
  • Allow the child to express whatever emotions come, such as anger, sadness, frustration or fear.
  • Tell the child you are also sad and upset.
  • Reassure the child that you will still be his or her parents.
  • Promise the child that your love for him or her will never change.

You should not do all the talking, however. It is possible that the child will be overwhelmed or emotional and unable to express his or her feelings. Still, your child may have many questions, and child advocates recommend listening carefully, without judging or taking offense, and encouraging the child to come to you as often as necessary with questions or concerns.

Your child will also take comfort in your patient reminders that everything will be fine in time. You can impress this idea on your child by refusing to sink into your own emotions and taking good care of yourself and remaining optimistic about the positive things your future may hold.