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Telling your kids about your decision to end your marriage is one of the hardest parts of divorce. Most children want their parents to stay together forever, which is why it is so difficult for them to hear about divorce. Fortunately, there are several ways that parents can help their children process the news in a healthy manner. Follow these tips:
Do it together.
It’s best for both parents to tell their kids about their decision to divorce together. If only one parent is present for the conversation, kids may place the blame on that parent and assume he or she is the one who wanted the divorce. Avoid this problem by telling your children together so they understand that it is a joint decision–even if it’s not.
Be prepared to answer questions.
It’s important for parents to prepare to answer their children’s questions about the divorce. Be as open and honest as possible with your children, but do not go into detail about the demise of your marriage. Your children do not need to know why your marriage ended or whose decision it was to file the paperwork, so avoid these topics.
Let your children express their emotions.
Every child is unique, so it’s difficult to predict how your children will react to the news. Some children lash out in anger while others break into tears. As a parent, it is hard to see your children act emotional and upset, but it’s best to let them express their emotions. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings so they know that it’s perfectly normal to experience a wide range of emotions at this time. If you don’t allow your children to express their emotions, it is much harder for them to cope with the changes that divorce brings.
Continue the conversation.
After the initial conversation is over, continue the conversation with your children. Sit down with them on a regular basis to discuss their concerns and answer their questions. This makes it easier for your children to process the changes that are taking place, and it also gives parents an opportunity to identify signs that their children may need professional help with adapting to life after divorce.