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Jennifer McCaskill
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Helpful ways to tell children about a divorce

When parents decide it is time to divorce, one central worry is about the wellbeing and happiness of the children from the marriage. Breaking the news of a divorce can feel like a daunting or even insurmountable challenge for parents in New Jersey. It’s important to find a compassionate yet straightforward strategy to have this conversation with the children.

As you prepare to tell children about an upcoming divorce, consider some tips to do so in an effective yet gentle manner. Children need to be a top priority as parents navigate a separation and divorce. Here are some general reminders for parents as you begin to plan how you will break the news of a divorce to the children.

Plan the conversation together

As co-parents, you and your soon to be former spouse will most likely continue your relationship in a new capacity after a divorce. Shared or joint custody arrangements continue to rise in preference in courts across the country, so it is likely that the two of you will need to work together as co-parents long after a divorce.

To begin this collaborative dynamic off right, consider forging this partnership from the beginning by telling children about the divorce together. Sit down with your spouse and devise a plan and talking points for this conversation. Decide when and where to have the conversation and well as what each of you will say – and not say.

Develop and stick to talking points

This conversation may be a defining moment in your child’s life, so choosing your words may require some time and care. Consider what you need to say and what you can perhaps leave out of the conversation. More often than not, children will wonder about their day to day routine and what a divorce means for their immediate future.

Where will everyone live? When will they see each parent? Does this change their routine? Plan for the logistical questions so you can provide concrete answers. Children rely on parents for consistency and guidance during a difficult time. You can both provide this through planning and open communication.

As you prepare to have this conversation with your children, it’s most important that you maintain an open mind and open dialogue with all parties. Their reaction may not be what you expect and the conversation can go many ways. The best thing you can do is provide them with comfort, guidance and consistency throughout a separation and divorce process.

There is no perfect way to plan for breaking difficult news to children. Dedicating the time and consideration to this conversation can give your family the best chance of getting through this challenging time with your relationships intact. Parents can lessen the burden on children through conscious and thoughtful planning before, during and after a divorce.

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