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Five tips for telling the kids about divorce

Telling your children you're getting divorced is challenging. For parents, divorce may represent a fresh start and an end to a painful relationship. For kids, divorce may mean their world is changing in ways they don't understand for reasons they don't comprehend. Children are resilient and the way you tell your kids about the divorce can help them through this difficult time.

Tell them together. When you and your spouse explain the situation to your children together-as a choice "we" are making-you show your children that the two of you can still work together as their parents and that the divorce will not stop either of you from loving them, caring for them, or being their parents.

Be civil. Telling your kids about the divorce is not a time to argue or put one another down. Hearing the news while watching you fight will only upset and confuse them. If need be, practice how you will tell your children, so you don't lose control of your emotions when you do tell them.

Expect questions. Where will you live? Where will they live? Will they continue to see you? What did they do wrong? Be ready to answer all questions -- as honestly and openly as you can. Health professionals emphasize the importance of communication for divorcing parents. Parents are encouraged to reassure their children that the decision to separate was not because of the children. Kids need to know that the divorce is not their fault. The more questions you answer, the safer they will feel.

Be there. In the days that follow, your children will have new questions and concerns. They may display many different emotions. Be prepared to provide the same kind of civil, honest, and supportive responses you provided when you first broke the news. Your steadiness will help them feel stable during an unstable time.

Remember the future. When the divorce is over, you, your ex, and your children will still have a growing relationship. Birthday parties, holidays, and vacations will still happen. Although you may not do these things with your ex, your children will. Laying the groundwork now for cooperative and supportive co-parenting will help your children come through the divorce steady, healthy, and loved.

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