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Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Divorce

Dealing with the aftermath of an unsuccessful marriage is a truly difficult experience, not only because of the stressors of asset division, custody arrangement, and planning an alternate living environment, but also because of the realization that the life you knew with your spouse is ending. While coming to grips with an impending divorce can be emotionally tumultuous for adults, the uncertainty of a marriage ending can be even more traumatic for children. The physical and emotional upheaval that children go through when dealing with their parents’ divorce is often one of the first sources of conflict they experience within family life. This can make divorce difficult to understand for young children and teenagers.

Although divorce can be painful and confusing, you can break the news of your separation to your kids in such a way that they will still feel heard and loved, albeit sad. Some tips for talking to your children about divorce include:

1. Tell your children about the divorce with both parents in the room (if possible)

Breaking the news of your separation with both parties in the room will show your kids that their parents can still work as a team and are dedicated to successful co-parenting. Delivering this news as a unified, concerned front will dispel any possibility of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Furthermore, you can both reassure your children of your unfailing love for them and let them know the divorce was no fault of their own.

2. Do not become angry or argue with your spouse when delivering the news

Practice this with your former spouse beforehand so you know what territory is off-limits in front of your kids. Do not blame, demonize, or act hostile towards your ex. Instead, you can explain that marriages sometimes don’t work out and that nobody is to blame. You should also give your children permission to fully love both parents after the divorce without concern of betraying one parent.

3. Explain that your family is changing

Children do not like to be excluded or left in the dark. You can warn your children of changing family dynamics without giving them all the dirty details of your divorce. Reassure them that you will get through this difficult time as a family and then compassionately discuss logistical information, such as where they will live, who will move out, and how often they will see each parent.

4. Be patient and allow your children to express every emotion

Divorce is a huge life change that can be difficult to accept. The emotions of children and adolescents vary so frequently that your child may seem fine one day and angry the next. Always be patient, open to questions, and give them time to accept the new arrangement.

Navigating through a divorce is different for every household. Although an ending marriage can be challenging to cope with, the compassionate Austin divorce lawyers at Kirker Davis LLP can guide you through every step of the way and help make your divorce as fast and seamless as possible. If you are in need of legal services in light of a divorce, contact our conveniently located Austin offices at (512) 598-0010 for more information.

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