PARENTS

Tip Of The Day - How To Tell Your Children You're Getting Divorced

10/07/2009 09:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

One problem Katie Price and Peter Andre didn't have to face was how to tell their children about their impending divorce, since every stage of their relationship breakdown has been splashed all over the media.

But what about those of us in less high profile relationships? Just what is the best way to say that mummy and daddy aren't going to live together any more.

Here's an age by age guide from Francine Kaye The Divorce Doctor on the best way to tell your children you're getting divorced:

What do we tell the Kids?

Children aged 2 ½-8 years

Timing is vital. This is not something to announce in anger, because you want them to know 'exactly what kind of a mother or father they have'

If possible both of you should tell your children together in the same room. Do it during the day, when you can go on to do an activity all together afterwards. Remember this is not about you!

Both of you should be available and prepared afterwards for any questions that may arise.

Put little ones on your laps or sit them together opposite you so you can look at them directly. Sit next to your partner, but keep the kids close, not the other side of the room.

Keep it very simple. Divorce is an adult business. Children are looking for reassurance that life as they know it will not fall apart. Who betrayed who with whom, is too much information.

It's impossible to tell what they've understood at this point. So don't assume.

Another question may be "Are you getting divorced"? You need to discover what divorce means to your child so you can offer reassurance. This takes a very special kind of listening. Say: Yes, we will one day, but I'm wondering what you think getting divorced means?

Be prepared to answer more concerns and go through the process again.

What matters is the listening. When a child is listened to and acknowledged he feels safe enough to ask questions. If you fob him off with anything other than the simple truth, he'll eventually close down because he won't trust that you understand what's going on for him.

Children aged 9-12

This age group are far more aware. They may have a good idea of why you are breaking up. They may be embarrassed and not want to talk about it. They may have been affected by your behaviour towards their other parent in the previous months or years.

But they are still young and still powerless to do anything about it.

Some children in this bracket will change their behaviour at school by paying less attention, underachieving and developing ailments such as headaches or stomach aches. Their bodies are swallowing up their pain. It's vital to get children of this age to talk. Take your cues and clues from them.

Every behaviour your child exhibits will be based on the question 'who am I now that my mum and dad are not together? I thought I was part of a complete family and now I'm not'. 'Who am I?' - the ultimate question we all have regarding our identities is being asked by a child.

This age group needs care and attention. Inform the school of your new living arrangements. Find out if there is a school counsellor and get her to have an informal chat with your child. Watch their behaviour carefully and listen as if you had three ears. Almost everyone who has been in this situation will have a story to tell. Listen to them all and learn from others who have been through this.

The Divorce Doctor by Francine Kaye is published by Hay House and available here from Amazon.

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