How to talk to kids about divorce and custody

Even when it's necessary and for the best, divorce can still be hard on the kids. It's important to know how you should broach the subject with them to make this transition to a new way of living go as smoothly as possible.

First of all, you and your ex want to appear confident and committed. Reassure the children and seek to take away their sense of unease. They draw a lot of their emotional strength from you, so that's what you want to project.

It's also good to be on the same side. You and your ex may be furious with one another, but try to put those negative emotions aside and work together to show your kids that the new normal won't be all bad. Remember, your relationship as a couple is ending, but you are both still parents to the kids, and they need to get the same love and reassurance from both of you.

Be sure you explain exactly what is happening and how it will impact the kids, as knowing what's going on can allay any fears of the unknown. You don't have to go into all of the details about why you're splitting up, and shouldn't, but tell the kids what to expect and how you plan to do things. It's best to give them only as much information as they are able to understand and process.

Above all else, divorce in California focuses on the children involved. As you sort through all of the legal paperwork and make decisions, remember to give time to them and put energy into making their lives better.

Source: Parents, "Explaining Shared Custody to Kids," Kate Bayless, accessed Aug. 29, 2016

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