Talking to Young Children About Divorce
The first step in talking to children about separation and divorce is to be absolutely sure—before you tell them—that this is a reality and that you both are definite about taking this action. It is not helpful for them to think that this might happen. They need your clarity in order to cope and to feel safe.
So once this is decided, plan on sitting down with them together. It is important that the information come from both of you, no matter what the circumstances, so that the kids can see that, in spite of this huge disruption in their lives, you plan to collaborate and cooperate together as their parents. You are sending an important message here. Then you can say: "We have been unhappy for a very long time, and you can see how much we fight. We have tried to get along better. We've talked and talked and tried to solve our problems, but it hasn't worked. Sometimes parents can't be happy anymore together. This is what's happened to us, and we've decided that it will be better if we live in separate places."
Emphasize that it's not their fault. Emphasize that one thing never changes: "Your mother will always be your mother and your father will always be your father. You still have a family even if your parents live in separate places."
Let them know that it's OK to feel sad and angry and that you feel that way, too. Finally, I'd like to recommend a really good book for you entitled Your Divorce Advisor by Mercer and Pruett, and a good book for your young kids entitled It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear by Vicki Lansky.