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Divorce can be devastating for children. While you might feel sense of relief that a difficult times are coming to the end, your child might feel sense of loss.
Although children's emotional reactions usually depend on their age at the time of divorce, many children experience feelings of loss, sadness and anger, and they express it with their behavior. Learn how to help you child cope with negative effects of divorce, and minimize stress and prevent trauma for your child.

Mommy and Daddy used to love each other, but now we don't...

There is no easy way to tell the breaking news, but you must do that! Do it as soon as you are certain of your divorce.
It is highly recommendable that both parents are present when a child is told. The basic message should be:
“we used to love each other and were happy together, but now we don't feel that way anymore and think we would be better apart. It is not about you, we love you just the same as we ever did. This divorce is happening because of us. We are responsible, not you.”
Communication is very important. Be sensitive, understanding, and most important leave all feeling of guilt, blame or anger out of this! Do not transfer this on your your child. 
One of most important things is to emphasize that your child shouldn't blame himself or herself for the divorce of parents, and that under no condition this is his or hers fault.
Second most important thing is to reassure him or her that your love for him/ her is unconditional and permanent!

Do they have to know everything?

No, they do not have to know every nasty detail from your relationship, but it is important to give them enough information so they are prepared for the upcoming changes.
If child is asking questions, try to answer as truthfully as possible and in age-appropriate way.  

How do children react?

Not all children react the same way. Some cry, some ask questions, and some have no initial response at all.
If he or she cries, let them know you recognize and care about his or hers feelings, if she or he asks questions, answer them, and if she or he has no emotional response at all, let him or her know that there will be other times to talk. 
Nevertheless, divorce brings with it a lot of changes and a very real sense of loss. Here are some tips on how to reduce stressful times for your child, but do understand that your child needs some time to adopt to new situation- some adjustments are quick and take month or only until the situation stabilizes and a child's routine can be re-established, but some may take more than a year. In times when children have longer response, it is essential for you to be attentive to the signs your child sends through his or hers feelings and help your child deal with them. It is very important for you child to know he or she is taken seriously and that his or hers feeling matter. For this reason- comunicate! It is often hard to verbalize feelings, both for you and your child, but there is no other way: you will notice change in your child's behavior and this behavior is filled with some sort of negative emotions. Help them to express those emotions or sometimes just be a good listener. And offer support! Let them know you are there for them. Always! 

What children ask themselves?

Many questions arise when child is dealt with divorce of his or hers parents. And, yes divorce brings changes in everyone's life, not just parent's, but also children's lives.  
Child might ash himself/herself:
Who will i live with or will I move? Will I loose my friends? Will I have to go to new school? Where will Mommy or Daddy live? Who will take me to school? And so on and so on...
Be prepared for this kind of questions. Answer them and remind your child that you're still a family and you will get through this difficult times no matter what. 

Child's reaction to stress at various ages

As said at the beginning, children's emotional reactions depend to some level on their age at the time of divorce. Nevertheless, many children, regardless their age experience feelings of loss, sadness and anger, and they express it with their behaviour. Below are some signals that represent a children's reaction to stress at various ages


Preschool children have the least information about their parents' divorce: four out of five of them never even are told about the divorce. This leaves children and that age confused and heightens feelings of abandonment. Consequently, many children at that age think divorce is their fault. Self-blame is one of the most widespread and debilitating of the reactions preschoolers have to their parents' divorce: they often think they've done something that caused the divorce.     
Children this age require consistency and routine and are comforted by familiarity. Signals that they usually send are crying or changers in eating or sleeping habits. They might also develop behaviors that they dealt with earlier in their lives, like thumb sucking, bedwetting, and problems sleeping through the night.

School-Age Children

School-age children are more realistic than preschoolers about the reasons for divorce. On the other hand they are more likely to experience confusion about themselves, because in most cases they have not yet learned to view themselves as distinct from their parents. This is especially typical for children between 6 and 8. Children at that age are more prone to depression than children at other ages: they are more likely to experience sadness and anger. Stress may take physical form, such as upset stomachs or headaches. They are also very interested in issues such as who is to blame for divorce.
For children between 9 and 12 it is more typical to become involved with activities apart from their parents, thus parents must accommodate more to their needs and schedules. Nevertheless, the impact of family remains critical. Warning signs for this age group includes depression, loneliness, anger or physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches and learning problems.


Teens or adolescents (age 13-20) are old enough to understand reasons and motives for divorce. Surprisingly, they know very little about the real reason for their parents' divorce.  They feel the same emotions as younger children, but there are some specifics for that age.
They are more likely to question marriage and more likely to swear they will never marry.  They are also more likely to have financial worries, which is partly a reason the self-focus that becomes more evident with that age.
Teenagers are also more likely to find and discuss the faults of their parents, which is perfectly normal and a part of disconnecting process.  Another characteristic is also that adolescents are more likely to take sides and seek explanations why one parent is 'bad' and why another one is not.

When kids aren't kids no more

Even though they are adult, they have feelings, but are much more understandable and easier to cope than with children at younger ages.
There is one typical 'mistake' though: adult children are just as reluctant to enter the divorce fight between their parents as young children are, and too often their divorcing parents reach out to them and drag them into the fray. Do not do that! Respect your child as individual and do not drag him or her in your problems and insecurities.