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How should I tell my child about my divorce?

If you and your child’s other parent have decided to divorce, you are likely overwhelmed by a number of additional decisions you will soon have to make. For example, you will have to decide what to do with your marital home, you will need to decide how your property is divided and you will need to determine how you will navigate the mutual relationships you have developed over time. But perhaps most pressingly, you may be overwhelmed by the prospect of telling your child that you and his or her other parent are choosing to divorce.

Feeling overwhelmed is a normal reaction to this life event. As a result, it may benefit you to step back and carefully plan how you will tell your child and what details you will choose to reveal to him or her during that initial conversation. If you are thoughtful in your approach and consider your child’s unique needs and likely concerns, you will help to make the experience less traumatic than it otherwise might be.

First, understand that children and teens may react in unexpected ways to your announcement. As a result, it may help to prepare for anger, sadness, silence and even relief. No matter how your child reacts, you will want to be prepared to be loving, understanding and to behave in a mature and composed manner.

Second, you will want to assure your child that the divorce is in no way his or her fault and that you will continue to take care of your child and love him or her, no matter how you and your spouse plan to construct your child custody arrangements. You may want to write out what you would like to say to your child before you speak, if you are concerned that you may forget to emphasize these and other important points.

Source: The Huffington Post, “9 Things To Consider Before Telling Your Kids About The Divorce,” Armin Brott, July 26, 2014

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