After months of trying to repair your marriage to no avail, you and your spouse have decided to separate. You know that it’s for the best, but you’re worried about how to explain your choice to your children — and how you can give them the space they need to process how their lives will change. You’re also wondering how to create a stable foundation for them in the midst of this major transition.

Many children of divorced parents still have healthy, fulfilling relationships with both of their parents when they grow up, especially if their parents are truly committed to a healthy co-parenting model. If you have yet to break the news to your children, these tips will help you move forward.

Explain the Situation Together

You and your spouse should choose a time to privately sit down and talk to your children about your decision to divorce. Make sure that you have plenty of time to talk about everything together. This cannot be a rushed conversation.

Your children may have lots of questions about why you are choosing to split up, where they will live, and what will happen next. Therefore, it’s a good idea to go over these details with your spouse prior to this conversation so that you will have answers ready.

Make It Clear that It’s Not Their Fault

Your children might be concerned that they did something to cause the divorce. They may ask if there was anything they did that upset you. They might also ask if there’s anything they could do now to bring you back together.

Reassure your children that you and your spouse still love them just as much. Explain that you’re not splitting up because of them. Show them every day that you love them no matter what happens.

Cooperate on Your Family Schedule

Co-parenting isn’t easy. You and your spouse will have to take a mature approach to co-parenting for the good of your children, even when it’s difficult.

As you and your spouse prepare to move into separate homes, you’ll need to decide on how you’ll split up holidays and other family events, how you’ll coordinate schedules for school pick-ups and drop-offs, and where your children will spend their time on weekdays and weekends. This may be determined with legal counsel.

Let Them Express Their Emotions

It’s inevitable that your children will feel sad and angry about the divorce. They might be confused about their new circumstances, even if you’ve tried to explain everything in a straightforward manner. You might have difficulty dealing with their complex emotions while grappling with your own feelings about the divorce.

But you need to give them time and space to express themselves.

Be Patient If They Act Out

Sometimes, children regress in terms of their behavior if their parents go through a divorce. You might notice your children slipping back into habits you thought they’d moved on from, like bed-wetting or tantrums. It doesn’t hurt to talk to their pediatrician about issues like this. But it is fairly normal when dealing with divorce.

Consider Therapy

Even if your children seem happy on the surface, they might benefit from talking to a therapist. You may be able to connect your children with a counselor who works at their school. Alternatively, you could search for a therapist who offers family therapy sessions. Take the time to look for a therapist who truly connects with your kids and makes them feel comfortable.

Are you struggling to support your children through a divorce? Therapy can help. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.

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