Ask Anna: 'My husband has left me and filed for divorce - how do I tell our three kids?'

Anna Williamson
·3-min read

Got a burning question about relationships, sex, parenting, dating or mental health you feel too embarrassed to ask? Qualified counsellor, life coach and Celebs Go Dating’s resident expert Anna Williamson is here to help.

She’ll be answering your burning questions for Yahoo Style UK – find out how to submit them below.

This week Anna helps a reader navigate divorce with three children.

Q: My husband left me a month ago. We have three kids. He filed for divorce after two weeks – how do I tell them?

Anna says:

Wow. Ok, this is a really, really tough situation, first of all – and you are coping magnificently looking after your children.

What’s really important is that you get your husband on board with you.

You are obviously going to be suffering and struggling with your own emotions around this time and a family breakdown is an incredibly stressful situation for everybody - not least your children.

Please make sure you get lots of help and support from your family and your friends.

Now is not a time to be brave and shoulder it all by yourself, so do reach out to those around you who love and care about you.

It’s important, if you can, to try to stay as amicable as possible with your husband.

If you’re still on speaking terms, it would be worth calmly trying to explain that you need to speak to your three children about what’s going to happen next.

Upset little preschool child boy looking at camera feel sad hurt about parents fights conflicts sit on sofa at home, depressed school kid son suffer from family argument, children and divorce concept
Children need to know they take priority when marriages fall apart (Photo:Getty)

Read more: ‘Sometimes during sex I cry for no reason – is this normal?’

It’s not fair for you to shoulder all of this emotional burden yourself, so I’m hoping that you can have a mature and adult conversation with your husband and that he can reciprocate.

And then it’s about explaining to your children the situation in an appropriate way, using age-appropriate language and emotions. Honesty is always key.

It will be difficult and it will be emotional for you all but, if you can, demonstrate that although you and your husband aren’t going to be together moving forwards, the children will always be number one – that they take priority.

If your kids can see that mum and dad are working together to find a way forwards - even if that’s separately - they can then have the pressure taken off them to ‘side’ with a parent, and you’ll be doing your kids a huge service in that.

A close-up view of a young man's hands removing his wedding ring a concept of relationship difficulties
Work together - although one person has left the relationship, both have a responsibility to the kids (Photo:Getty)

In my experience of dealing with family breakdowns, it’s what you do rather than what you don’t do, moving forwards, that counts.

Work together - you’re both their parents and I’m hoping your husband will understand that he absolutely has a responsibility towards you and the children, regardless of the divorce, so that everyone can feel as respected as they can.

Good luck with it. Take that support from family and friends. Be kind to yourself.

Watch the video above for Anna’s full response on this issue.

This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are concerned about your mental health, please consult a doctor. Information about a range of issues is also available on the NHS website.

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