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
  • sensitivity of the issues (Are they things your children should not hear about?)

You may want to explain that getting a divorce was a really hard decision, and that you tried to fix your problems first. 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 you’re separating. It’s OK not to 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 you are ending your adult relationship but will continue to be loving and supportive parents.

Tell your children that they can read the guides on this website that are written just for them. You should also read them. In the Kids’ Guide children learn about why some people decide to separate or divorce and more. Teens can also read in the Teen Guide about why couples break-up and more. Both guides 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.