Relationship Advice

How to tell your kids that you're getting divorced

It's one of the toughest conversations you'll ever have, so it needs to be done with calm and care.

By Anju Regis
Anju Regis is the founder of The Separation Exchange, an online resource for Australians going through a separation or divorce, as well as those married men and women who are thinking about ending their relationship.
Guided by her own separation experience, Anju wanted to share the personal and professional advice she's learned along the way, in the hope that her pain may serve other people experiencing something similar.
Here she shares with Now To Love her tips for navigating the difficult divorce conversation with your children.
In Kramer vs Kramer, Meryl Streep plays a mother going through a divorce. (Image: Supplied)
Whatever the reason for your separation or divorce, breaking the news to your kids will most likely be very emotional and upsetting, for both you and them.
Depending on the ages of your kids, this conversation is likely to be one they won't forget.
So here are three tips to help guide you through this difficult conversation, so that both you and your kids can achieve the best outcome.
WATCH: Cassandra Thorburn on her divorce from Karl Stefanovic. Post continues after video...

1. Have a game plan

I am not saying your conversation needs to be scripted, but preparing what you are going to tell your kids, well in advance, is always helpful.
Have a general approach and think about the basics of what you want to communicate to them, prior to the reveal.
"Having a clear plan for when the separation is happening and what it will mean for the kids is important," said Jay Anderson, a registered psychologist, counsellor and play therapist.
"Communicate key information, for example, that the kids will keep living with mum in our house and dad will catch up with you on the weekends," Jay said.
"Some families decide that the kids will live with dad one week and with mum the other week, so you could say 'We are going to see how that goes for all of us'."
Lindsay Lohan plays the daughter of divorced parents in The Parent Trap. Supplied

2. Keep the discussion age-appropriate

Make your reveal about your divorce age-appropriate. In my experience, keeping things simple when your kids are young (say ages two-10) is a good start.
When we separated, we explored many options, including delivering the news somewhere away from home, but in the end we opted for delivering the news in our home as it was where the kids felt safest.
You know your kids best, so the place and timing of your delivery will be best selected by you and the other parent.
If your children are older and now teenagers, Davina Donovan, a psychologist who works with teenagers gave the following top tips on revealing the news to teens:
  • Be honest and transparent with your kids. They need to know what is happening and when.
  • You cannot protect them from everything. They will experience difficult emotions and this is OK. It is not about avoiding emotions, but helping them to navigate through them.
  • You must consider your kids and their welfare, but you cannot be controlled by this. Doing everything for your kids could put you in a less than optimal position, which in turn impacts your kids. Balance your welfare with theirs.
WATCH BELOW: The truth about the divorce between The Wiggles stars Lachie and Emma. Story continues after video.

3. Remember that this "reveal" is for the kids, so remain focused on them

During such an emotional period, it is often challenging to rein in your emotions and focus on the kids.
Separation can often bring out the worst in both people involved, but leaving that aside and putting your kids' best interests first will be so beneficial to them!
So hang up the boxing gloves, take a deep breath and remember that the kids need you to keep yourself together and NOT lose your sh--!
Keep in mind all of these decisions you are making are adult ones, and they need to know how their world will continue after this news has been delivered.
For more information about divorce and separation, visit The Separation Exchange.