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Uh-oh: Accidentally telling your kids about your divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Family Law

Divorce is a difficult conversation topic for anyone involved, especially children. Ideally, parents have time to prepare themselves and their kids before breaking the news.

But life doesn’t always follow a script, and sometimes, the news about a potential divorce can slip out unintentionally. If this is your current predicament, you can benefit from tips concerning what to do if you accidentally blurt out the D-word before you’re ready for that conversation.

Damage control and honesty

First things first, take a deep breath. While the situation isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world. The most important thing now is to be honest and age-appropriate with your children. Sit them down in a calm environment and explain what happened. Briefly acknowledge your slip-up, but don’t dwell on it.

Tailoring the conversation

The specifics of what you say will depend on your children’s ages. Younger children (under 10) might simply need reassurance that they are loved and safe. You can say something like, “Mommy and Daddy are working through some grown-up problems. We love you very much, and that won’t ever change.”

You can offer a bit more detail for older children (10 and up). Briefly explain that you and your partner are considering a divorce but haven’t made a final decision. Emphasize that you’re still figuring things out and will keep them updated.

Reassurance is key

Regardless of their age, your children will likely have a lot of questions and anxieties. Validate their feelings and let them know it’s okay to be sad, angry or confused. Reassure them that you’ll be there for them no matter what happens. Here are some key messages to convey:

  • Things will be different, but they’ll be okay. You don’t have to have all the answers about future living arrangements, but reassure them you’ll work together to create a stable and loving environment for them.
  • They can talk to you about anything. Open the door for communication and let them know they can come to you with any questions or worries.

Talking about divorce is tough, even if it’s planned. Don’t be afraid to seek support from a therapist or counselor who can equip you with the tools to communicate effectively with your children and address their anxieties.

Accidentally letting the information slip out might not have been how you envisioned having the conversation, but it can be an opportunity to build trust and transparency with your children. You can also take this opportunity to reach out to a reliable legal team to address concerns and anxieties you have about how to best approach your divorce process to minimize the stress that it will inspire in your household overall.