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Breaking the news: 3 tips for telling children about divorce

When announcing the news of divorce, parents should plan a script, anticipate their children’s needs and deliver the news together to all of their kids.

Announcing the news of divorce to others is never easy, and for parents, this task may be especially challenging. Learning about a divorce can be traumatic for kids of any age and maturity level, and many common mistakes can make this experience more difficult. To ease this process, parents in Augusta should keep the following tips in mind when deciding how to break the news of divorce to their children.

1. Plan it thoroughly

Parents should give careful thought to the time and place that they choose to tell their children about the divorce. Children may remember this moment in vivid detail for years or even a lifetime, according to Psychology Today. Parents should pick a safe and private location that is as free of distractions as possible. They should also avoid scheduling the announcement close to special occasions, such as holidays.

If possible, parents should have some idea of the specific changes that they will make after the separation is complete. This may not be possible in high-conflict divorces, since parents may have to wait for a family law judge to determine a working child custody and visitation arrangement. However, if parents can agree on some issues, they can give their children a better idea of what to expect after the divorce.

2. Recognize children's needs

Parents who are breaking the news to children of different ages should remember that each child might have distinct needs and concerns. Today's Parent notes that reactions can vary by age as follows:

  • Younger children may focus more on concrete details and ask specific questions, such as which school they will attend or which parent the family pet will live with.
  • Older children may need more details about the reasons for the divorce, as they may hold out hopes of their parents reconciling otherwise.
  • Adolescents may also need more information to understand the separation, along with ongoing communication and honesty from their parents.

Regardless of age, children also should receive reassurance that they are loved and were not a factor in the decision to divorce.

3. Include everyone

Parents should plan on breaking divorce news together, unless factors such as domestic violence or abuse make this inadvisable. Parents also should present the divorce as a mutual decision, instead of discussing their own feelings or each partner's supposed role in the separation. This approach can shield children from unnecessary conflict and allay any fears the children may have about being forced to choose between their parents.

Psychology Today further recommends that parents break the news to all of their children at the same time. Parents who have children of varying ages and maturity levels may be tempted to delay telling the children who seem less prepared to cope with a divorce. However, this can make some children feel left in the dark, while others may feel that they were unfairly forced to keep their parents' secrets.

Navigating other issues

Telling children about divorce can be difficult, and unfortunately, it is only the first hurdle that separating parents in Georgia face. Crafting a parenting plan that is agreeable to both parents and beneficial for each child can be complex. In some cases, securing child support can also be a challenging matter. To address these issues, parents may benefit from consulting with an attorney for advice on reaching a settlement that supports the best interests of their children.

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