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Breaking the news to kids about your divorce

One of the most difficult parts of divorce for many couples is breaking the news to their children. Even though most kids can sense that there's something wrong in their parents' relationship, hearing from them that it's actually over can be devastating.

That's why it's essential for parents to give some thought and planning to how they are going to tell their children that they're breaking up. That initial conversation can set the tone for how the kids will deal with it.

Of course every family is unique, and how you talk to your kids about the break-up will depend in large part on their ages and levels of maturity. Nonetheless, there are some things that will help just about any couple prepare for that dreaded conversation.

First, you should tell the kids together. Regardless of what your feelings are toward one another, it's important to assure your kids that you will both still be their parents. While you don't want to go into the details of why you no longer can live together, it's essential to ensure your kids that the break-up has nothing to do with them. Kids tend to feel responsible for everything. You both need to relieve them from that burden.

Secondly, choose your timing carefully. They will need some time to deal with the news. Choose a time when they will be able to be alone for awhile and think about it. Certainly don't wait until a holiday or birthday. This is a memory that they'll carry with them forever. They shouldn't associate it with a special time of the year.

Finally, do some preparation before you break the news. Ideally, you and your spouse should draft an outline of what you want to tell your kids and some answers to questions you anticipate that they will ask, such as where they will live and how often they'll see both parents. It's important to be on the same page so that your kids see that the two of you are still united in your focus on them.

Talking to kids about divorce has been a difficult subject for many years. Those of us who are old enough remember the Sonny and Cher song, "You Better Sit Down Kids" know that. If you need some advice on talking to your kids about your divorce, your family law attorney can likely recommend sources for advice and support.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Four Ways To Prepare Before Telling Your Kids," accessed April 20, 2017

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