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How to talk to children about divorce

Children have specific emotional needs when it comes to facing the complex and traumatic issue of divorce. Your role as a parent is crucial in helping your children get through the divorce feeling supported and loved.

These suggestions can help you as you talk to your children about your divorce.

Recognize divorce as a process

One important thing to keep in mind in working with your children regarding your divorce is that divorce is a process, not just a single event. As such, it can be helpful to approach the divorce process as an opportunity for them to learn some important life skills. Although no one wishes for any child to go through the pain of their parents' divorce, life does include painful moments, and your children will benefit from learning effective ways to cope with and move through painful situations. 

Support your child's needs regarding the other parent

While you may wish to never see your ex-spouse again, this is your children's other parent, and as such, you should recognize the importance of his or her presence in their lives. Try to maintain a positive outlook when you speak to your children about your ex-spouse. Make efforts towards effective co-parenting and visitation, so your children have the benefit of both parents in their lives. Mediation can be helpful in terms of finding common ground on this issue.

Focus on your child's feelings

Children deal with divorce in different ways depending on their age and their psychosocial development. Give your children a safe space to express their feelings, and make an effort not to impose your own feelings or reactions. Open listening and acknowledging whatever feelings your children present, from anger to sadness to confusion, will help them feel that you are protecting them despite the disruption to their life.

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