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Five tips for breaking the news of a divorce to the kids

For divorcing parents, breaking the news to their kids may be a difficult task, but there are things they can do to help set their children’s minds at ease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate in the state of Colorado was 4.8 for every 1,000 residents as of 2011. For parents, the most difficult part of a divorce may be breaking the news to their children. Research has found many kids hold on to the memory of being told their parents are getting divorced, and its recollection may cause them upset throughout their lives. There is no perfect way to discuss a split that will alleviate all of the upset the news may cause, but there are things people can do to make the conversation as positive as possible.

Set differences aside

The divorce of their parents is often a significantly disruptive experience for children. Often key to their emotional well-being in the wake of such an upheaval is having confidence that their parents will continue to put them first and be there for them. While it is important to offer such reassurances verbally, parents may reinforce their words by talking to their kids together. This may help show them they will continue to guide and parent them together.

Tell all the kids at once

The end of a marriage is an adult issue that must be discussed with children when it affects their lives. Some parents only tell their older children, because they feel it is not appropriate for their younger kids or that they are protecting them. However, only telling certain children may send the wrong message to those in the dark and burden those in the know. Thus, it is recommended that parents tell all their children they are planning to get divorced at the same time.

Keep the negativity out of it

Offering some explanation for a divorce may help children to process the decision and begin to accept it. In providing reasoning, people should keep in mind that placing the blame solely on one parent or the other may negatively affect kids. Therefore, it may be best to remain neutral and general in the explanation to avoid damaging the parent-child relationships. Additionally, parents are advised to refrain from speaking negatively to or about each other in front of their children.

Allow children to react

Different children will have different reactions to the news of their parents' divorce. Some may cry or become angry, while others may feel a sense of relief. Even if it is difficult for them to accept or understand, it is suggested that parents allow their kids to express themselves. They should refrain from trying to tell them how to feel and instead, listen to what they are saying and keep the focus on them.

Expect questions

Kids are inherently self-centered. Thus, it is common for them to be concerned about how their parents' split will affect them directly. After they are told the news, children may have a range of questions, like will they have to move, what will the visitation schedule be or will they be able to go to a friend's birthday party next weekend? Parents should do their best to answer their children's questions and encourage an open dialogue so their kids feel free to discuss their feelings.

Obtaining legal assistance

Making the decision to end their marriage may be challenging enough for people in Colorado. Getting through the process and moving on may be even more difficult for them and their families. Therefore, it may benefit those who are considering a divorce to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may aid in any negotiations and guide them through the legal process.