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Informing Children about Divorce

Approximately 40% to 60% of couples in the U.S. recently married divorce and the rate is 10% higher for remarriages. One part of the process facing divorcing parents is telling the children of the decision. Results from a recent article in Contemporary Family Therapy summarizes the event from the child's perspective and suggests ways they would have preferred being told.

Findings suggest the following: children would have preferred being told by both parents; they would have preferred that parents would communicate openly with each other; it was very stressful to hear one parent "bad mouthing" the other; children wanted parents to tell them they were loved and also showed emotional support.

Here are some additional suggestions.

  • Answer childern's questions honestly, avoid unnecessary details

  • Tell the children about the process of visitation

  • Be consistent and on time to pick up and return children

  • Guard against cancelling plans with children

  • If you are angry with your ex-partner, do not express the anger in front of the children

  • Likewise, avoid putting children in the middle and in the position of having to take sides.


Blau, M. (1993). Families apart: Ten kays to successful co-parenting. N.Y. : G. P. Putnam $ Sons.

Lansky, V. (1991). Vicki Lansky's divorce book for parents. N.Y. : Signet

Westbery, A., Nelson, T.S., Piercy, K.W. (2002). Disclosure of divorce plans to children: what the children have to say. Contemporary Family Therapy, 24 (4), 525-542.

John J. Zarski, Ph.D., ABPP
Staff Psychologist

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