Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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How do I explain why we’re getting divorced?

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Your kids will probably ask you why you’re getting a divorce. This is normal. Your children are confused and upset, and they want to know why this is happening. You should answer their questions. If they don’t know why you’re splitting up, they might blame themselves or think they did something wrong.

How and what to tell your children is up to you and the other parent. You should decide how much to tell them about you divorce based on their

  • age,
  • maturity,
  • level of understanding, and
  • the sensitivity of the issues. Are they things that should be shared with children?

You may want to explain that getting a divorce was a hard decision, and that you tried very hard to fix your problems. Some parents explain why their relationship is ending when they tell the children about the separation or divorce. It’s OK if you aren’t ready to talk about the exact reasons why you’re separating. It’s OK to not go into details with your children if you’re still feeling really upset, or if the reasons for the divorce are things that shouldn’t be shared with children.

Even if you can’t tell your children exactly why you’re divorcing, you must tell them that the break-up isn’t their fault. If you don’t tell them this, they might think that they are the reason you’re getting divorced.

You can explain that the problems in the relationship are adult problems between you and the other parent. Make sure your kids understand that even though you’re ending your adult relationship, you will continue to be loving and supportive parents.

Tell your children that they can read the guides on this website, which are written just for them. You should also read them. Both guides will help them through your divorce or separation and explain why some people decide to split up. And they make the following points very clear to children:

  • They are not the reason for their parents splitting up. Kids do not cause separation or divorce.
  • It’s not their fault.
  • They are not alone; thousands of kids get through their parents' separation or divorce every year, and they will too.
  • Parents divorce each other, not their children.
  • Your parents are yours forever.