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How to talk to kids about divorce

When you are facing a divorce, fewer things can feel more challenging than figuring out how to break the news to your children. Even after the kids know about the impending separation and divorce, ongoing proceedings can be difficult to discuss with them.

By following a few basic tips on how to talk to kids about divorce, you can increase your confidence and help your children through this trying time. A conscious approach to your communication style can help them make sense of things in a healthy way.

Be open and honest

Sometimes it seems like a reasonable and caring idea to polish over the actual truth of a situation in an effort to protect children from the harsh reality of a divorce. However, these "little white lies" often do more harm than good when it comes to divorce. The trick is to share truthful information about the divorce with your children in a way that is age-appropriate. You cannot take the pain away from your children, but you can be supportive of their fears and allow them to express themselves freely.

Seek collaboration in child custody

Children can be deeply affected by battles over child custody, and the trauma of a custody situation riddled with conflict can stay with children forever. Make every possible effort to come to a collaborative solution with your ex-spouse about custody and visitation. If you are able to negotiate and find an agreement, you can minimize stress and conflict as well as save time and money you would have otherwise spent on a drawn-out courtroom fight.

Be strategic about revealing the news

If your children are old enough to understand what is going on, it is critical that you strategically plan how you will reveal the news. This means thinking about the context, the time, the environment, and even the wording of how you will tell your kids. Ideally, you and your spouse should have this conversation with your children together, but if that is not possible, make your best effort to provide a safe and supportive environment in which to let your children know the news. 

Making a commitment to being honest and open with your children about divorce, as well as providing a supportive environment for them to share their fears and questions, can help your entire family face this difficult time.

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