Breaking the News: How to Tell Your Child You’re Getting a Divorce

One of the hardest parts of getting a divorce is breaking the news to friends and family. It is hard to let down the people who were rooting for you, and who truly believed that you and your spouse would make it as a couple. For many couples, no one had more faith in their love than the child they brought into the world together. Breaking the news of a divorce to your child is one of the most challenging, heartbreaking conversations a parent can have. 

At Piper McCracken, we’ve seen many couples struggle with this. Even though they know that divorce is the right next step for them, and that ultimately it will be better for them, and for their children, breaking the news is always difficult. Read on to find our tips for handling this tough conversation.

Have the conversation together as a family.

If at all possible, this conversation is best conducted between both parents and the child. If each parent discusses the divorce with a child separately, it can cause them to feel even more confused and unmoored. You and your spouse will likely approach the subject with slightly different demeanors. You may choose to answer difficult questions in different ways. These discrepancies can be confusing and alarming for children. Having the conversation together assures them that they are supported and that everything isn’t falling apart all at once.

Stress to your child that it is not their fault.

Children are naturally egocentric. They assume that the things that happen around them are either caused by or directed at them. Many children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce, even if you can think of no logical reason for them to develop such a belief. Make sure your child understands that you and your spouse accept full responsibility for the split and they have nothing at all to feel guilty about.

Give your child the chance to speak and do your best to answer their questions.

Your child’s reaction to this news may not be what you expect. Some children cry and cling to their parents while others seem more concerned about what’s for dinner. Children all have their own unique ways of processing emotional information, just like adults do. Remember there is no right or wrong reaction. Regardless of their demeanor, allow them the opportunity to express their feelings and ask any questions they want. They may ask straightforward things like, “Will I have to change schools?” but they may also ask more difficult questions such as “Why don’t you love each other anymore?” Do your best to answer them as honestly as possible. It is important for them to know that you will support them and make sure they understand what is happening throughout the process to come.

If the time has come for you and your spouse to get a divorce, partner with a family law attorney who understands both the emotional side and the legal side of what you’re going through. The team at Piper McCracken is ready to help you tackle this transition and begin your next chapter. To learn more about our services, give us a call at (615) 669-2884.

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Piper McCracken, PLLC

Our firm began as a belief that things could be done better—in both the practice of law and in the working lives of lawyers. Founding partners, Heather Piper and Joanna McCracken, met while working as attorneys at a large, regional firm. They honed their skills as litigators on a broad range of cases from medical malpractice and product liability, to real estate and entertainment law. But it was their mutual desire to help people on a more personal level that inspired them to begin a family law practice.

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