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Be gentle, honest when telling children about divorce

While divorce is often stressful for separating couples in Maryland and elsewhere, it can be even more difficult for children. Children whose parents are undergoing divorce can feel confused, angry, guilty and depressed, making it important for parents to make the right decisions when telling their children about an ensuing divorce.

The founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network says that divorcing parents should frequently remind their children that they are not to blame for the divorce. This is especially important in cases where a couple is fighting over child custody, as the child may perceive him or herself as the reason for the entire divorce. But she also recommends that parents avoid revealing too many details about the divorce to their children. While some parents do so in effort to bond with their children, she says too much information can "create a burden" that can leave a child even more confused.

Parents should also refrain from fighting in front of children. Instead, it's important for both parties to become a "parenting alliance" for the benefit of their children. Divorce often represents instability for children, but parents who work together can minimize this effect. Likewise, parents should not blame or speak negatively about one another in front of their children. It is important that children are allowed to have normal, healthy relationships with both parents despite the divorce. Children often feel conflicted regarding their parents, making it even more important to avoid forcing them to choose.

Parents should think carefully about how they speak about divorce around their children, giving consideration to their feelings.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Questions: How Do I Tell My Kids We're Getting a Divorce?" Rosalind Sedacca, April 28, 2012

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