As an adult, going through a divorce is difficult, but you understand why it has to happen. You understand what it is like to break up a relationship and how you need to adjust to a life as a single person. It can be devastating, but you have a good grasp of what has to happen.
The same is not true for children. Children often struggle greatly with their parents’ divorces because they don’t understand what it is like to live apart from them. They don’t know what to expect, and they don’t really understand what it means to separate.
Children sometimes feel they are to blame, or they become overwhelmed with frustration, anger or sorrow that they don’t know how to handle. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your children about divorce and to explain what it is (or isn’t) in this case.
Remember to speak to your children in an age-appropriate manner
As you get ready to talk to your children about divorce, remember to keep things age appropriate. An older teen can probably understand what’s happening, but you may need to reassure them and explain what kind of expectations you have for them, their custody arrangements and other issues that could affect them.
For younger children, you may need to focus more on what a divorce is, why it is happening and what will happen to them because of it. For example, a kindergartner may simply need to know that a divorce is when two people decide they don’t want to be in a relationship or live together. You may need to express that it doesn’t mean that you or the other parent won’t still see them or that they aren’t loved.
Approaching the topic from an age-appropriate angle means thinking about how much your child may know and how emotionally mature they are. Some children will need more explanation than others.
You and the other parent may want to sit down together to go over the situation with them and to comfort them as they try to adjust to what life will be like now.