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Four considerations when telling your kids about your divorce

If you recently learned that divorce is in your future, you may wonder about how you should tell your kids about this news. Planning an important conversation like this can have many facets. For example, you might wonder when should you tell them, who should participate in the conversation, what they might understand and what you should expect from the conversation.

Pick the right moment

Generally, it is better to tell your children about your divorce sooner rather than later. However, your children will remember that conversation for a very long time, so you may not want to break the news during holidays, birthdays or other times of celebration. You may also want to select a time when the whole family can be present, including your spouse, and when no one is rushed.

Collaborate with your spouse

It can be helpful if you and your spouse are able to tell your children together in a mature and respectful way. Try to agree on providing the same messages to the children. Both you and your spouse should avoid assigning any blame, even if only one parent decided the divorce was necessary.

Use language your children will understand

Children of different ages have different abilities to understand divorce. In general, it often works well to focus on how the change might impact your child, such as where the child will live, which parent will move out and when the child will see each parent. With young children you may need to use simple language and have several brief conversations before your child will begin to understand. Older children may have a better understanding of what divorce is, but they may have several questions for you and your spouse.

Remain available to your children

Always reassure your children that your divorce is not their fault. Also, make sure they know that they can come to you if they have additional questions or if they want to talk about their feelings. Sometimes it takes children some time to process what is happening and how they feel about it.

Divorce can be a big change for everyone on the family, including the children. However, the way they are told about your divorce can help your children better cope with the changes divorce can bring.

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