Breaking the news: How to tell children you’re getting divorced


How to tell children you’re getting divorced? Most of the advice given in this article is common sense, but common sense is precisely what goes out the window at times of high emotion. These tips are worth noting if you are faced with this situation.

Reprinted from the Roodepoort Record, by Sasha Wyatt-Minter – 2021-10-04

Telling your kids you’re getting divorced is never easy. However, the way you tell them can make a difference in how they cope with the news.

Divorce, separation, or a breakup between two parents is excruciatingly painful, and the decision is always life-altering.

Many parents who have “been there, done that” can vouch for just how hard it is telling your kids your relationship has come to an end. It will take time for you and your children to adjust to such a significant change, and while you may be confident in the future you envision for them, they will need time to see it unfold. Be emotionally present and soothing in the interim. Here’s some advice on how to break the news as gently as possible.

Choose the right time and place

Protect your children from more hurt or anger by deciding when, how, and what you will tell them (together if possible). Plan to tell them on a day when you can spend time with them as a family, such as a weekend. Don’t do it right before school or bedtime, or on a holiday or other special day.

Don’t tell them in a public place. While an audience may make your children behave more calmly than they would otherwise, there is a good chance it will go down in their memories as the most traumatic, humiliating experience they ever had or could have again, short of being ditched at the church before the wedding.

Take your child’s age into account

Expect your child to be shocked and withdraw

Some children may react to the news with shock and anger, while others may retreat to their bedroom to cry and refuse to talk about the topic. No matter how your child reacts, accept their feelings and give them a little space and time if they need it.

Be simple and direct

Be ready to provide answers about who will live where, how often they will see the non-resident parent, whether they will have to move too; whether they will lose their friends, their school. All these are fair questions. Lying to buffer the blow is inappropriate.  You are already damaging your child’s trust: do not damage it further by lying. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them that you’ll let them know when you figure things out.

Reassurance is the key

Reiterate that you both love your child and that it’s not their fault Children often feel as if their parents’ divorce is in some way their fault. It’s important that your child knows that they did not cause the breakup, nor could they have prevented it from happening.

Most of all, love your child and commit, in your heart and aloud, to remaining an engaged, connected, dedicated parent.

Contact Divorce Attorney Cape Town for more information

If you’ve decided that divorce is the best option, Cape Town law firm SD Law can help. Sometimes divorce allows all parties to move forward with their lives, including the children. If you want to discuss your options, we are a law firm in Cape Town with extensive experience of helping couples divorce with dignity. Contact family lawyer Simon Dippenaar on 086 099 5146 or email

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The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.

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