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4 helpful tips on how to explain divorce to young children

Divorce is one of the most stressful experiences that an Illinois couple can go through, but everyone involved, especially children, are faced with a huge life change that can seem to disrupt everything familiar. Many people worry about how to breach the subject to their children, since divorce can have a strong emotional impact on children if the issue is not handled well by their parents. The following tips can provide guidance on ways to talk to young children about a divorce.

1. Tell the truth

Without going into great detail about the ins and outs of the breakup of a marriage, it is important to be as honest as possible. Vague, long-winded explanations can be confusing and lead to resentment and misunderstandings. Children are entitled to understand what is going on in their life, so parents should come up with simple, straight-forward reasons for their divorce that make sense to a small child. For example, stating that the parents cannot get along anymore is better than trying to make it easier on the child by lying about why the divorce is happening.

Stelk 2 - Explaining Divorce - 4 Helpful Tips

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2. Avoid blaming

It can be difficult to avoid the blame game when talking to children, but both parents should present a united front that is free from arguments about who is at fault. If possible, plan the conversation with the other spouse beforehand so that both parents can agree on how to explain the situation. This can help prevent one parent from pointing fingers at the other and creating feelings of anger or bitterness in their children.

3. Listen

Many children process the announcement of a divorce as they would the loss of a loved one. There are likely to be big adjustments that they must handle, which can create intense emotions. Parents should be willing to listen to their children’s concerns and feelings, providing guidance through their grieving process. After parents have had a chance to talk, they should make sure to take the time to listen and acknowledge the things that their children have to say, even if it is brutally honest.

4. Clear up misunderstandings

Divorce brings with it many complicated issues, such as child custody, visitation and new living arrangements. Children should be completely clear about what they can expect. Misunderstandings about where they will be living, how their behavior affected the divorce or what one parent did to the other should be cleared up. While it may take time for children to really understand why their parents chose to divorce, reassurance can help children grasp a little bit of the future holds for their family.

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