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We're getting a divorce. How do we tell the kids?

It may have been difficult to broach the subject of divorce with your spouse. There may have been a lot of yelling, crying and confusion as the two of you came to terms with the fact that your marriage has come to an end.

As difficult as that was, however, you now need to let your children know. Big changes are coming, and your children need the time to adjust and obtain some sense of security that they aren't losing a parent in the process. Like other Kentucky parents before you, you know this is something you need to do, but you may not be quite sure how to do it.

These tips may help

Obviously, you know that you can't just walk in the room, announce the divorce and walk back out of the room. The question is how to address the divorce in a way that lets your children know they are not at fault and that they will still have ample time with each of you. The following tips may help get your children, and you, through this conversation:

  • If your children are of vastly different ages, consider telling each of them separately. Older children can handle more details that younger ones may not.
  • Both of you should sit down with the kids. Come up with what you will say ahead of time and stick to your plan.
  • Make simple but honest statements about the divorce. Your children don't necessarily need to know your personal reasons for the divorce, so simply stating that you can't live together anymore may be enough to start.
  • Refrain from assigning blame.
  • Let them know you love them and will remain in their lives as much as possible.
  • Acknowledge that changes will happen. Provide them with details regarding school, living arrangements and other details that affect their lives.
  • Give each of them a chance to absorb the information and respond. Let them express their feelings.
  • Prepare yourself for questions, outbursts and other emotional responses. This is a big change for everyone.

You may find yourself constantly reassuring and answering the same questions for a while. You may think you know how your children will react, but they may surprise you. You and the other parent may need to discuss the possibility of finding your children some support outside the family to help them through the process.

Perhaps most importantly, your children need to know that they will continue to have loving and supportive relationships with each of you. Children thrive on structure, so keeping their routines as normal as possible may help. You may be separating your lives, but when it comes to your children, you may want to try to stay as united as possible as everyone adjusts to new circumstances.

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