How to Tell the Kids You’re Getting a Divorce

Breaking the news to the kids when you and your wife have decided to divorce is painful for all.

According to, the most important thing a parent can do during this difficult time are to “keep visible conflict, heated discussions, and legal talk away from kids”.

Here are some other commonsense tips for how to tell the kids you’re getting a divorce.

Tip #1: Tell them with your Wife

Your kids need to hear it from both of you. They need the security of knowing that in this traumatic situation for them, the two of you are committed to their best interests. In addition, telling them together will prevent either of you from giving them just one side of the story or divulging too much information in regards to child custody and what the living arrangements will be before it is decided.

Go through what you plan to tell the kids ahead of time with your wife. Be on the same page regarding reasons and what you expect will happen going forward.

Tip #2: Don’t Blame One Another

If both of you are willing to accept a share in the blame, it will avoid the kids taking sides. Even if your wife’s actions are the primary cause of the divorce, keep things neutral for the sake of the kids. One of the worst mistakes you can make is fighting around the children.

Tip #3: Assure the Kids that it is NOT Their Fault

Some children may naturally feel like they are to blame, especially if they’ve had behavioral issues that have caused marriage and family stress. Let them know that the decision to divorce was made solely due to marriage issues.

Tip #4: Consider the Children’s Ages

Only tell them age-appropriate details and no matter what their ages, keep tawdry details away from them. You might want to expose your wife’s behavior to the kids to punish her, but it will hurt them too. If your children are close in age and maturity, tell them all at the same time. If there is a disparity in age, you may want to tell them separately so the explanation can be age-appropriate for each one.

Tip #5: Tell Them Sooner Rather than Later

They need to hear the news from you. News of a decision to divorce spreads rapidly through the gossip grapevine. Tell them before they hear it from anyone else. You may want to break the news to them based on their age and IVillage has some great guidelines to follow.

Tip #6: Be Realistic about Life Changes

Let them know that changes will be inevitable. Living arrangements will be different. Tell them that you understand it will be a difficult transition, and then let them know you will both do all you can to reduce the negative impact on their lives.

Tip #7: Answer Their Questions as Honestly As Possible

During the meeting when you break the news, and in the days and weeks to follow, they will have many questions. They’ll want to know to what extent life is going to change, so will ask if they’ll go to the same school, if they’ll continue in sports or dance, if you and your wife will live near one another, how often they’ll see you, where will the pets live, etc. Be honest when answering these questions, especially where it pertains to the extent of visitation or where they will be living.

The task of sharing this news with your children might be one of the toughest things you’ve ever done. These tips for how to tell your kids you’re getting a divorce will prepare you for the discussion and lessen the trauma for all concerned.