Divorce is an emotionally complicated process and one that can be very difficult to explain to young children. Although there is no one correct way to support children through a divorce, as children and families are unique, most professionals do agree on general guidelines that facilitate children’s well being during and after the divorce.
When I am working with families, I usually provide some golden rules to guide parents in explaining divorce to young children. I will describe some of these here. It is important for parents and family members to be on the same page when explaining the divorce to children. If parents disagree and use different reasons and different words for the divorce, this can be very confusing to young children. Although there can be many different reasons for divorce, it is also critical that parents not blame and criticize the other parent during and after the divorce process. Children need to idealize their parents and maintain strong attachments to each parent. It is also important that parents be honest with children, but not overwhelm children with too much information and details. I have written up these tips and some other golden rules in an article that has been published in Thrive Magazine, and that can serve as a helpful framework for parents, family members, therapists, and other child advocates who are working with children of divorce.
Another resource that parents can utilize to learn more about divorce facts and statistics is A Parents Guide to Children and Divorce.