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Tips for talking to your children about divorce

If you and your wife have finally decided to take the first steps toward divorce, the next thing you need to do is to tell your children. This could very well be the most difficult conversation of your life since no child wants to hear that their parents are splitting up.

While you and your wife probably have a general idea of what will happen during the process and what your lives will be like post-divorce, for your children, this is the end of the only life they have ever known.

Handling the divorce conversation with care is extremely important to help your children cope with the changes that they will experience. Here are a few things to consider when you are planning how to deliver the news.

The memory will stay fresh

The memory of being told their parents are divorcing generally remains very fresh and vivid in a child's mind even into adulthood. In other words, when parents tell their children they are divorcing, it is usually a traumatic and shocking experience for the children. Since this day will always stay in your child's mind, be sure to plan it very carefully and take into account the where and the when along with the how.

Consider telling them together

Some parents decide to tell their older children about the divorce first, but putting your child in a position where he or she has to keep a secret from the younger siblings could be stressful and traumatic as well. Have a family discussion about the divorce where all of your children are present. This will keep the oldest from feeling burdened and the younger children from feeling like you lack faith in their ability to handle the changes.

Reactions could be very different

A child's reaction to the news of divorce can vary greatly. For example, your children might be more aware of the discord between you and their mother and might react with a mixture of both positive and negative feelings. Your younger children, who may not be aware of the tension in the household might become very upset and display various negative feelings. Even if you do not understand your children's reactions, it is important to let them experience their feelings without someone else attempting to invalidate them.

If you are considering divorce and you have children, the above tips can help you when it comes to break the news to them. Before, during and after the divorce, remember to make your children the priority to limit the emotional effects of how much their lives will change.

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Robert Schembs
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