How to break the news of divorce to children

Parents in New Jersey may be surprised to learn that ending a marriage can lead to insecurity in children. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that children of divorce often feel unsure of their relationships with their parents. The study revealed that the insecurity is even more pronounced among little ones who are 5 or younger.

Fortunately, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reports that there are things that parents can do in order to avoid a strained relationship with their children. According to the organization, the end of a marriage can lead children to believe the separation is their fault. This can be corrected through having a meaningful conversation with each child.

The AACAP offers the following tips for breaking the news:

  • Acknowledge the fact that the situation may be upsetting for everyone involved.
  • Tell the children as a couple instead of just one parent discussing the issue.
  • Assure children that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents still love them.
  • Do not over-share or give children more information than they need.

Parents should tell children about a divorce as soon as possible and keep an eye on any signs of distress. Just as the situation is difficult for adults, children may be overcome with grief, stress and anxiety. The AACAP warns that it is possible for a child who experiences divorce to reject a parent.

When children have strong reactions to the new family dynamic, parents may want to contact a psychologist or family therapist. Such reactions can include self-esteem issues, withdrawal or aggression. The AACAP notes that when parents are committed to their children’s wellbeing, everyone is better equipped to handle the divorce.