Talking to kids about divorce

Many Washington couples are likely contemplating ending their marriages, and some have children of various ages. Divorce itself is stressful but can be even more so when kids are involved. A lot of parents worry about how to explain their situations to their kids without placing too heavy a burden on them.  

The way a parent discusses the topic of divorce with children depends on the ages and maturity levels of each child. In fact, several children could be in the same age group but be quite different from each other regarding emotional or intellectual maturity, which, in turn, would impact a parent's approach to the topic. It is generally best to keep all divorce-related discussions simple and as basic as possible.  

A parent can explain to a child that spouses sometimes determine it is better for everyone involved if they go their separate ways in life. It is important, however, that parents remind their children that they love them and that the kids are not to blame for the divorce. If there was a particular marital crisis, such as an affair, it does not necessarily mean the children should be made aware of the details.  

It is also a good idea to avoid speaking negatively about a co-parent, as this can confuse a child and cause mixed feelings regarding loyalty and the bonds of a parent/child relationship. Allowing children to lead a discussion by asking specific questions can also be a healthy way to address matters of divorce. Just as a Washington parent can reach out for legal support as needed, a parent can also let kids know there are local resources to help them cope with the situation as well.  

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