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When should you tell your child about the divorce?

As a parent who has recently started the process of divorce, you now turn your attention to your child. What should you tell them about the upcoming split? When should you tell them? Is there a right time, a right place and a right way to do it?

While there is unfortunately no easy, straightforward and simple way of handling this tough discussion, there are things you can do to make it go more smoothly.

Communicate with your co-parent

Psychology Today examines some tips for breaking the news of divorce. First, work with your co-parent to draw out your boundaries. Decide what you want to share and what you will not share. Your child does not need to know all of the sordid details behind the break-up to understand the most important thing: that the divorce is happening, and it is not their fault.

Aim for an early conversation

Next, tell them sooner rather than later. It is natural for parents to want to postpone this unpleasant discussion as long as possible, but you are doing this largely for yourself. In reality, it is best for your child to know that a big change is on the way. The earlier they know, they more time they have to mentally prepare for it. This gives them the chance to build a sturdier, stronger base, which can help them cope through the tough changes in a smoother way.

Do not rush into a discussion without any preparation, though. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Predict questions your child might have and decide how you want to field them. Also, hold this discussion – and future discussions – with your co-parent.