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Tips for talking to a child about divorce

Parents who decide to divorce, often try desperately to shield their child from any resulting emotional and financial fallout. The fact is that divorce is complicated and parents often struggle with how to discuss an impending divorce with a child. While every divorcing couple's situation is different and much depends on a child's age, the following tips can serve as a starting and reference point for parents who have questions and concerns.

When possible, divorcing parents should do their best to work together to come up with talking points and set ground rules with regard to how to address the topic of divorce and the many changes it means for a family. It's important to set aside personal feelings of resentment and blame and keep a child's best interests the priority and focus.

Again, much depends on a child's age, but as a general rule it's important to be honest with a child. That's not to say a child should be privy to intimate details related to why his or her parents are splitting, but it does mean being forthright about plans to divorce and what that means for a child.

When addressing changes related to a divorce, it's also important to stress those things that won't change. This includes the fact that both parents love and want to spend as much time as possible with a child. Parents should also be prepared to answer specific questions a child may have related to living arrangements, school and social activities.

It's likely that divorcing parents won't know or be able to provide concrete answers to many questions related to child custody, but providing some type of reassurance that things will be ok and work out can go a long way in helping a child feel more secure.

Source: Helpguide.org, "Children and Divorce," 2015