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How to break the divorce news to the children: Best practices

When Maryland parents consider filing for divorce, one of the most difficult things to contemplate is having to sit down and break the news to the kids. In fact, many spouses postpone filing for divorce until they feel that their children are emotionally prepared to accept the change in family structure. While there is likely no “best” age for kids to process divorce, there are best practices that can help parents discuss the matter in a way that kids can understand.

When preparing for this family meeting, parents should schedule a time to sit down together and discuss the changes that are on the horizon. This means choosing a time that is not sandwiched between other appointments or obligations, and with an open end that allows kids to ask questions. The setting should be somewhere quiet and familiar, where kids will feel comfortable.

The most important message for kids to walk away with is that the decision to divorce has absolutely nothing to do with them, and is an adult matter. This may seem obvious to both spouses, but children see life from a very egocentric perspective. In their minds, very little that goes on is not directly linked to them, and they can easily view their parents’ divorce in the same light. They will need plenty of reassurance that the change in family structure is not about them, and this is a message that needs to be repeated throughout the divorce process.

Even in cases in which there is a high level of contention between parents, it is usually best to talk to shared children about divorce together. This allows kids to see that both mom and dad are united in the decision to alter the shape of the family, and gives plenty of opportunities to assure them that the love and support they need from both parents will continue to be there. While this is never an easy discussion to have, parents in Maryland who work together often find that it is far easier than they anticipated.

Source: The Huffington Post, "9 Things To Consider Before Telling Your Kids About The Divorce", Armin Brott, July 26, 2014

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