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Supporting kids through separation or divorce

Finding a way through separation or divorce is never easy. We share tips that have helped others through it.

Divorced parents comforting their child

When relationships change...

Figuring out how to get through this difficult time can be a painful process.

  • Many parents worry how the separation or divorce will impact the kids
  • Lots of families go through separation or divorce and eventually adapt - they go on to lead happy and fulfilled lives

If you notice your kids being affected by the changes at home, they can contact Kids Helpline and talk with a counsellor for free

How do I talk about separation or divorce with my children?

While it’s not always possible to do so, it’s generally helpful if both parents talk honestly and openly with the kids. Try these approaches:

Involve your ex-partner about when and where to tell the kids

Be honest and don’t make promises you can’t keep

Decide beforehand how much detail you’re going to share

Avoid judging the other parent or attributing blame

Use respectful language when talking about the other parent

Avoid involving kids in fights or arguments with your ex-partner

How might my children respond to the news?

A child’s age and personality will affect how they respond to the news. But in general, these are some common feelings they may have:


Some questions kids might have...

Try to think about your answers to these common questions before talking to the kids:

  • Where will I live?
  • Will I have to change schools?
  • Will I still see relatives or friends?
  • Where will the other parent be and how often will I see them?
  • Is it my fault?
  • Was it something I did wrong?

Be open and talk about it in an ongoing way – it will take more than one conversation to adjust to the separation or divorce

Helping children cope with separation or divorce

As well as being sensitive toward their feelings and offering plenty of love and support, try these suggestions:

Listen to their concerns and answer their questions honestly

It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers right away

Show respect for their feelings and tell them their feelings matter

Spend quality time with the kids individually and check in

Keep up routines as this can provide some stability for the family

Create a conflict-free space so the kids can share how they feel

Provide safe ways for them to express difficult feelings

Seek counselling support for kids to help them cope

You are not alone

It’s ok to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do next – going through a separation or divorce can be a painful process. Just remember, you are not alone.

For more tailored support for your specific family circumstances call Parentline in your state or territory.

This content was last reviewed 19/07/2018

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