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Facing divorce? Here are tips for telling the kids

There is a common belief in our culture that kids probably know when their parents are heading toward divorce. Often, couples have more and more arguments as a marriage breaks down. However, that does not necessarily mean that parents should not plan and do what they can to work together in telling the kids about their plans to divorce.

Children are generally flexible.  As parents separate, however, children usually have a natural desire that their parents stay together. Breaking the news to the children as a team is important, whether parents have been arguing for years or whether a couple is separating amicably, according to Parents magazine.

How you break the news to your children can make a significant difference in how they cope with the situation, both during and after the divorce.  Some useful tips to guide you through the steps to take include:

  • Work together as a team: Professionals say that presenting a united front – even during this time of turmoil – is important in breaking the news. It may seem counter -intuitive to suggest working as a team to break the news. However, even though the family is heading through a transition, your relationship with the children still needs to take center stage. Avoiding bickering, accusations and the differences between you and your spouse while explaining your decision as a team can help you children to continue to feel secure.
  • Do not wing it: Creating a plan of action may seem daunting. However, planning how and what to say in advance can go a long way in helping you get through the conversation. While a word-for-word script would be unnatural, at least going through the process of planning can help you to find neutral words and help to ease your child’s concerns.
  • Expect a response or questions: Children vary greatly in how they may react to the news that their parents are heading for divorce. Responses vary as well. Some children may simply acknowledge that they saw it coming, while others may become confused. Either way, it is important for you to assess your relationship with the kids to help anticipate what questions they may have. It is important to let the kids know that your problems with your spouse are not because of the kids. Letting the kids know that the divorce is not their fault is a positive and reassuring gift that you can continue to provide throughout the divorce process.

Breaking the news in a calm and responsible fashion is a good way to lay solid groundwork for maintaining your relationship with your children for years to come. Even though your marriage is ending, you and your soon-to-be ex will generally continue to have some sort of contact. Future birthdays, functions at school and the marriage of your child will be times when you will benefit from setting a positive example at this difficult time.

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