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How do you tell your children you’re divorcing or separating?


It’s very natural to worry about telling your children you’re divorcing or separating; as parents you want to protect them.

You may have lots of questions running through your head and with everything that’s going on for you it can be difficult to think through this important step.

You may worry how they’re going to take the news. Will they blame you? Will they be able to cope with the changes that being a separated family inevitably brings? Are you going to be able to cope with their reactions?

Think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

Use clear words that your children can understand. Phrases like “spending time apart” can be misunderstood and children may hang on to you getting back together.

Bear in mind that children don’t want to hear the reasons behind why you’re separating, who’s to blame or the details around your separation. They love you both.

Should you and your ex partner speak to the children together?

Being there together can feel supportive for your children.

If you agree to tell your children together it can be a way of helping you think about what you’re going to say to them.

You can agree on the words you’re going to use.

You can also agree in advance how you might answer any questions your children might ask.

It is re-assuring for children to know that whilst you as Mum and Dad are each going to be in separate houses they will see you both.


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When is the best time to tell your children you are separating?

Bear in mind that whenever you tell your children they will need time and space to process the news that you are separating.

They may want to go to their room or to a quiet place because they want time away to think about what’s been said. They may greet the news silently.

The news can be shocking for them and they may feel anxious, angry, sad they may feel it’s their fault. Don’t expect each of your children to respond in the same way.

Knowing that children can have many and varied reactions may help you decide when would be the best time for them to hear you are separating and divorcing.

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