Advice for parents on breaking divorce news to children

When a married couple reaches the decision to divorce, change is eminent for everyone involved. In cases where a couple has children, it's important to follow certain guidelines when initially breaking the news of an impending divorce. Parents owe it to their children to find a way to effectively communicate news of a divorce and it's important that both parents are present when the conversation occurs.

An actual divorce discussion depends largely on a child's age and how he or she reacts to the news. It's wise, however, that parents have a general outline of the important messages they want to convey and reiterate. It's also important to schedule a time to talk when a child has the time and energy to absorb what they're being told and ask questions.

In most cases, children that are old enough to understand what divorce is and the changes it brings may have questions related to why the divorce is occurring as well as where he or she will live. When faced with these types of questions, it's best to stick to general and succinct answers. A child does not need to know if mom or dad was unfaithful or has a drug problem. Additionally, matters related to child custody may be up in the air, making it difficult to provide specific details. Parents are advised, therefore to assure a child of their unconditional love and to keep reiterating that the divorce is not the child’s fault.

In the weeks and months following an initial divorce conversation, a child will likely continue to have questions about divorce, living arrangements and custody and visitation matters. In cases where a child seems to be having a difficult time adjusting to a divorce and the many changes it brings, parents may choose to consult a professional counselor.

Source: The Huffington Post, "9 Tips for Breaking Bad News to Kids," Armin Brott, July 30, 2014