Telling Kids About Divorce: An Age-By-Age Guide

Telling Kids About Divorce: An Age-By-Age Guide

If you’ve been following celebrity news, Justin Theroux talked about his divorce from Jennifer Aniston. He described it as “kind of the most gentle separation.”

It’s not something new, of course. Remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” back in 2014? This is proof that an amicable breakup isn’t that shocking in Hollywood.

And even for non-celebrity couples, divorces don’t have to be contentious. As we’ve said before, there are ways to keep divorces amicable. One of those is to always put the children first.

But how? You can start with this age-by-age guide for telling kids about divorce.

Preschoolers

Divorce with kids is never easy. But don’t ever think having “the talk” with younger kids (0 to 5-year-olds) is easier. If you don’t prepare what you’re going to say, you might end up confusing them.

Remember, preschoolers still need guidance when it comes to processing their feelings and emotions. You can’t expect them to grasp the concept of divorce right away.

So what you should focus on is making them understand that even if you and your partner are going to live separate lives, no one is going to abandon them. Let them know their needs will be met.

Also, don’t overwhelm them with information. Aim for short and simple explanations. But make sure you have a series of these short talks as one conversation wouldn’t be enough to do the job.

Gradeschoolers

What do you tell kids between 5 and 12 about divorce? Remember, these kids have a better understanding of their feelings. And this is good because you can encourage them to ask all the questions they have about your current family situation.

But with kids in this age range, you have to be careful not to give them any reason to blame you, your ex, or themselves for the split. Make sure you’re clear that this is an adult decision and that they didn’t cause the divorce.

Help them talk about their feelings. And of course, don’t forget to reassure them that you love them.

Teens

Older kids (12 to 18-years-old) will have a deeper understanding about divorce. They probably have peers who have gone through the same thing. But that doesn’t mean they will be 100% onboard with the whole thing.

Expect that they will have a lot of questions and be prepared for teen moodiness, too. Understand that when it comes to children and divorce, older kids still need to feel connected with their parents.

They may not show it and it might feel like they’re blocking all your attempts to reach out to them. But know that you have to keep communication lines open and that them lashing out is just them testing you to see if you really love them.

Telling Kids About Divorce: Do You Need Help?

Talking to kids about divorce is a conversation a lot of parents dread. But putting it off will only make it worse.

If you need more help telling kids about divorce, we encourage you to browse our blog today for some more information or contact us below.