Thursday, August 4, 2011

Talking to your Children about Divorce

When relationships break down it can be a stressful time for all - the future is uncertain, routines change, relationships are strained and homelife is unsettled. Living in this environment can be very fraught, especially when there is the added concern of children.  

A parents initial instinct in these circumstances is to protect their children.  This might consist of not discussing the situation in front of them, acting as if nothing is wrong or even removing children from the environment while matters get sorted.  However children are very bright, they pick up on vibes, they watch and listen to their parents reactions, they have a lot of questions - after all, isn't that how they learn?  It is not uncommon for children to feel responsible for the split.

During this time adults need to be conscious of their behavior. They need to think through how to manage their feelings in front of the children, and avoid blaming one another.  

Most importantly they need to talk to their children and, if possible, this needs to happen from both parents.  Children benefit from hearing similar messages from each parent. This will require preparation to ensure that both parents are clear on what, and how, they will discuss.  Ideally, both parents should be present, but if this creates tension, then have separate discussions.

Discussions only need to be kept simple, straightforward and age-appropriate. Parents need to let children know how life will change, including major concerns such as how they will see each parent and where they will live. Children are bound to have questions which can't be answered, so it is important to let them know that both Mommy and Daddy are working out the details.

Always remember children have a right to love both parents.

Below we have listed our suggestions of what parents may like to tell their children during this unsettled time.

  • The split has nothing to do with you, it is a grown-up problem between Mommy and Daddy that you cannot change.
  • This will be a difficult change for you, and you can always ask questions and talk to us about how you feel.
  • While Mommy and Daddy’s feelings for each other have changed, we will never stop loving you.
  • You will always have a family. Instead of being a family in one home, you will have a family with Daddy and a family with Mommy.
  • We know this will be hard for you and we are sorry.
  • We will always be your Mommy and Daddy.
  • You can always love both Mommy and Daddy.

Finally, be patient during this time.  Changes to family situations can take time to settle down. Everyone needs time to adjust. Children will need time to get used to their new arrangements and changes to their routines.

Do not be shy to ask for help from family, friends and professionals, this will help you and your children adjust to the changes in your life.

Do find out about local services if you and your partner are struggling to reach agreement on issues such as contact, residence and finances.


If you are a parent facing divorce or separation I hope you find some reassurance from the information above.  I went through divorce with two young children 5 years ago.  I know what an unsettling time this can be for all concerned, but we are through it and very happily moving on with our lives.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

Victoria Ballard
Founder and Director
The Victoria Chart Company LLC

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