You’ve made the decision to end your marriage. At some point, you’re going to have to tell your children that you’re getting divorced. This can be a more complicated conversation than telling your spouse. Your spouse at least understands the issues in the marriage and may not be surprised by it. Your children may have no idea that it’s coming. How do you tell them?

First and foremost, think about the three main things that help kids when their parents get divorced. These are:

  • Reduced exposure to the conflict that may come with the divorce
  • Good parenting with a focus on routines and the children’s best interests 
  • Strong relationships with both Mom and Dad that continue even when the parents aren’t married

You can take these three ideas and apply them to the divorce conversation you have. For instance, having that talk as a family, with both you and your spouse present, shows the children that they’ll still have a strong relationship with both of you. Second, keeping the conversation focused on facts and answering questions, rather than talking about the issues you and your spouse have that are leading to the divorce, can reduce conflict. Finally, focusing on the children and keeping lines of communication clear — i.e., letting them talk, answering their questions and showing them that they matter — keeps your focus on good parenting the entire time. 

These tips can help make that conversation easier, but that’s just the beginning of the divorce process. It can be long and complex, and you want to put the children first the entire time. Make sure you know what options you have to do so.