Give a Reason for Your Divorce

Children need to know why the divorce is occurring so they don’t blame themselves. Finding the right words is not always easy. Be sure your children are told that:


Your tone and your words make a difference. Try to explain the reasons without anger and harshness in your voice.

If a parent is ill (because of alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental illness), a child needs to be told. Sometimes the ill parent is not yet receiving treatment (or even seeking it), but that parent’s “illness” can still be discussed in age-appropriate words. (“Daddy/Mommy is in the hospital because he/she’s not feeling well and needs special help to talk about what is bothering him/her.”) Such illnesses may prevent that parent from showing love and concern for a child, and this knowledge will help any children.

If your household has been noisy and combative, these outward signs make it easier for children to understand that reasons may exist. On the other hand, if you don’t fight and seem to have a calm and cooperative relationship with the other parent, then children may be at a loss to understand why you must divorce.

They will need help understanding that:

  • Not all anger is noisy anger.
  • Adult sexual preferences and outside opposite sex relationships change the nature of a marriage for adults.
  • Not all adults in families share the same values, and such value differences sometimes cause families to restructure.
  • The purpose of the divorce is to try to make things better for one or both adults.

You might not yet truly understand the real reasons for your own divorce. Often these only reveal themselves with time. The apparent reasons or the symptomatic reasons will do as an explanation for now.

Excerpted from : Vicki Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents

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