WE CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY                             HOW AND WHAT TO SAY                               

Talking to your child about divorce

Lisa Snipper LCSW

11250 Roger Bacon Drive

Suite 6

Reston, Virginia 20190



Additional Information

  1. Counseling / Therapy

  2. Adult

  3. Adolescent

  4. Children

Separation and Divorce impacts -


How you as parents

are able to manage yourselves

will determine how they weather the storm

     The Divorce Counseling Group of Washington DC  @ 2009                                                                                                Contact Us

Even though we know it can be painful, difficult or scary to talk with your children about separation or divorce it is an OPPORTUNITY to let them know first and foremost that YOU LOVE THEM. You can also demonstrate as their parents, you are going to meet their needs and answer appropriate questions.

If both parents can cooperate, it is best to have both parents present to tell your children. This sends an important message - that your both capable of working together for their benefit.

  1. -Provide a general reason for what is happening. Your children will want to know why it is happening. Older children will recognize that this is a huge life change and they will weigh that change against the reasons you give. So while they don’t need to know the personal details, be prepared give give a brief explanation. Resist their attempts to get you to provide the adult content. Adult issues should NOT get shared. It is not important, or even appropriate that you provide specific details about why you are planning a divorce.

  2. -Reassure the children of your Unconditional Love. Say “I love you” a lot. Let them know that your love for them has not changed. Your children will need lots of reassurance that the divorce is not their fault; specifically that nothing they did could have caused or prevented what has happened.

  3. -Acknowledge changes. Preempt your children’s questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different and some things will not.

  4. -Provide specific details about the parent who is leaving the home. The more you can tell your children about where the departing parent will live and when they will be seeing them, the better.

  5. -Be sensitive to how children react to the news.  What you are telling them may be completely unexpected, and will change their lives. Try to be as understanding of no reaction - which is a reaction - as you would be if the children were in tears or extremely angry. Your children may not know how to express their intense emotions appropriately and it may be some time before they can articulate their feelings.

  6. -Welcome  their questions. Most likely your children will have may questions. To the extent you can, be honest and clear in your responses. If you do not know the answer to a question, tell them that. Expect to revisit the topic may times as new questions and concerns arise.

  7. -Give them time to adjust to the news. It is a huge change and it will take some time or them to see that future play out. Be patient with their needs and make the effort to be a steady presence in their lives.

  8. -Avoid blaming. Be honest with your children, WITHOUT being critical of the other parent. Present a united front as much as you can. Try to agree in advance on an explanation for the separation or divorce - and stick to it.

  9. -Plan your conversations. Make plans to talk with your children before any changes in the living arrangements occur. Plan to talk when your spouse is present, if possible. Show restraint and be respectful of the other parent when giving reasons for the separation.

Give an honest - but child friendly explanation.