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Struggling with the idea of talking to your kids about divorce?

Like most Ohio parents, you've likely encountered situations where you have had to give your children disappointing news. Perhaps you had planned a family vacation, then learned that your new work schedule would interfere, so you had to cancel. Maybe you're one of many who have had to break the news to kids that someone they love has died.

A lot of parents say that one of the most difficult things to talk to kids about is divorce. Trying to come up with the right words to let them know that their parents are ending their marriage, and that their whole family is no longer going to live under the same roof, can be emotionally upsetting. However, it doesn't necessarily have to leave a lasting, negative scar.

Things to do and not do

Every child is unique, and one might react entirely different from another when learning that parents are getting divorced. By keeping the following ideas in mind, you may be able to show your kids support and prevent major problems:

  • Lying to your kids is never a good idea.
  • Making up stories, such as telling them their other parent is going on a business trip, may ultimately not only confuse and anger them when they learn the truth but may lead to mistrust in your own parent/child relationship.
  • Talk to your kids in person. Down the line, you may exchange letters, texts or emails about the situation, but children deserve an in-person conversation when learning about something that will be life-changing for them.
  • Don't place blame on your spouse, and make sure your kids understand your divorce is not their fault.

While the last item listed may seem like a no-brainer, you'd be surprised how many kids internalize their parents' divorces and think they themselves are to blame. Letting your children hear you say that it is not their fault can go a long way toward helping them cope.

Line up your resources

You may have good days and bad days as you and your children learn to adapt to a post-divorce lifestyle. Also, you may not always feel like talking to each other about the situation but may benefit from being able to chat with an outside source, like a trusted friend or relative, or a licensed counselor.

It's also a good idea to prepare yourself for any legal issues that might arise. If you and your spouse agree on everything that has to do with parenting, that's great. More times than not, however, parents must negotiate, cooperate and compromise to achieve a fair and agreeable plan. Know where to seek support if you're unable to do that.

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