Families Change Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Who should tell the children and where

If possible, both parents should be present when you tell the children about the separation or divorce. This will prevent one parent from blaming the other and give both parents the opportunity to answer the children’s questions. Having both parents involved will also help the children understand that they are not being abandoned. However, when there is open hostility between the parents, it is best for only one parent to sit down with the children to explain what is going on.

Here are some tips for when and where to tell the children:

  • Choose a safe and comfortable environment where the children can react honestly and openly
  • Do not wait until the last possible moment. Avoiding the situation may only further confuse the children
  • Try to avoid delivering the news when you are anxious or upset, as this will add to your children’s anxiety
  • Pick a quiet time in the day, with few distractions and enough opportunity for an unhurried discussion. For younger children, it is best not to speak to them about these sensitive issues when they are tired or cranky
  • Children are confused by separation and divorce. It may be better if you have a few shorter talks with them, explaining only the most important issues at first
  • The first conversation will be the most difficult for the family, but encourage and commit to further meetings. The children will have more questions in time
  • Be with the children and stay around after the conversation takes place