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How and What to Tell Your Children about Divorce

If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, you may be unsure how to break the news to your children, or how much to tell your kids about your pending separation. Here are some helpful tips to use to make sure that your children understand as much as they need to about divorce, regardless of age.

Be honest

Parents tend to think that younger children are not perceptive when it comes to figuring out adult emotions, but this is definitely a mistake. Your children know when something in the home is wrong, even if they can’t verbally express to you what the problem is. When you’re children see that you and your spouse aren’t getting along, you’ll probably have to answer some questions at some point. The best way to answer any questions your children may have about a pending divorce is honestly. You can tailor your answers based on your children’s age, but be aware that divorce is an awkward and confusing time to kids as well as adults, and keeping important information from your children will only cause them to resent you in the future.

The best thing you can do to help your kids deal with divorce is to let them talk. After you’ve explained your decision to divorce or separate, make sure that you let your children know that they can talk to you about their feelings. Your children may not be ready to talk about the divorce right away, but if your son or daughter knows that they can always come to you to tell how the divorce is affecting them, they are less likely to be angry with you, or to let the divorce effect other things in their lives, such as school activities or relationships with friends.

Don’t speak to soon

No matter how old your children are, the news of their parents divorcing could still confuse, sadden, and even anger them. Make sure that you and your spouse are doing everything in your power to try to save your marriage before you tell your children that you’ve decided to divorce. More couples than ever before are considering counselling and therapy to repair their relationships, so discuss this with your spouse before you decide to separate. You should, however, tell your children that you are considering counselling, and that you and your spouse are making every effort to get along with one another. Many times, parents forget that divorce is a family affair, and that a mother and father separating will dramatically change the family dynamic.

Make your child feel secure

Children tend to feel unwanted or unloved when their parents are divorcing; kids blame themselves for divorce, and feel that something they have done has caused their parents to separate. It’s important that you let your children know that they are still loved very much by both parents, and that divorce is not their fault. If you and your spouse decide on divorce, do your best to make sure that you and your ex-husband or ex-wife remain friends. Your children still need to know that they are part of a family, and that both parents are making an effort to be an active part of their lives. You should also make sure that your children are not being forced to choose one parent over another. This can be difficult sometimes, since one parent usually has primary custody. Letting your child choose who they would like to live with will take the pressure off your children, and make them feel a little more comfortable with the divorce. If you or your spouse decide to remarry, your children will not be as resistant to or uncomfortable with meeting a stepparent if they already know their place in the family.

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