Explaining divorce to children

Kids can have a tough time understanding some of the more complex human emotions, but sometimes certain events happen, and we’re left with no choice but to help our children deal with some tough things that can happen to people at a young age. Nobody likes dealing with something like divorce or loss, and explaining a subject like this to a child is even less pleasant to have to experience. Ideas like this, however, are a bit bigger than many children’s scope of understanding, so it helps to have adults that can emotionally hold their hands, so to speak, and guide them through the process of dealing with something like a parent’s divorce or some other significant loss. Tragedies happen, and coping is a mechanism that’s important to the mental health of any individual. Before children have developed the tools that can help them cope on their own, however, they might need someone to be their guide through some of the more difficult facts of life. We’ll talk about some of the best ways of explaining divorce and loss to children, so you can help them understand and deal with whatever comes their way in a healthy manner.


Perhaps the most important thing a child must understand when dealing with something like divorce is that it’s not their fault. Children often wind up feeling like they are responsible for their parents’ divorce, and the fact that this is not the case should be reinforced from the get-go. In fact, when breaking the news to a child or children, this might be one of the things with which a parent can lead the discussion. Helping children understand that a divorce or serious loss isn’t their fault is first of all a good way to help them avoid an unnecessary and unhealthy sense of guilt. Even more so, it helps serve as an introduction to the idea that sometimes things happen which are entirely unpleasant, but are completely outside of our realm of control or responsibility. This sense of acceptance can be an important part of coping with just about any serious life event.

Children can also learn¬†the steps¬†towards properly dealing with loss and grief by watching your example. You can deal with things in healthy ways by talking about them openly, but by also making sure that you’re sure to make clear a set of boundaries. Things like death and loss are going to occur in life, and children will deal with them better if they’re discussed without hushed voices or an overbearing sense of solemnity. The best way to explain divorce or loss to children is to speak to them gently, but to speak openly and without any sort of condescension. When you address children like they’re your peers, they respond a lot better to what you’re saying. These strategies are some of the best ways to start teaching a child how to deal with issues like divorce or loss, as these tools will be important ones throughout the majority of anyone’s life.


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