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Making child custody talks age-appropriate for each child

One of the most distressing things about any Maryland divorce is having to discuss the matter with one's children. This is a talk that most parents dread, and many feel ill-equipped to handle. The following guidelines are shared in the hopes of making it easier to sit down and discuss divorce and child custody changes with kids, and they give advice for every age group.

When it comes to very small children, there is no need to have a discussion about divorce, as they are unable to process complex information. For preschool age kids, the talk should be basic and kept to the primary points. Small children should be assured that many things about their daily routines will remain the same, even though other things will change. Be sure to emphasize that everyone (parents and child) will be okay and that both parents will always love the child, no matter what.

Kids who are in the early elementary years will usually have more questions when they learn that their parents are going to divorce. They may ask why the divorce is happening and might be concerned about whether the change is making either parent sad. It is important to keep the answers to those questions at a very basic level and to assure kids that they will continue to have the love and support of both parents. It should be noted that some kids will not show their emotions easily and will need periodic checking in to make sure that they are processing the changes in a healthy manner.

Older kids in middle and high school may have a strong emotional reaction to the news of divorce. It is important to be open and honest when any questions are posed, while also avoiding details that are not child-appropriate. When talking about the changes to come, parents should strive to present a calm and confident demeanor, which will help kids take the same approach to the family's shifting structure.   

Above all else, parents should make sure that their kids feel loved and supported. It is important to set aside time to talk to kids about divorce and child custody changes and to prepare for questions or emotions that might arise. Maryland parents who are able to remain calm and positive about the new direction that the family is taking are laying a foundation for a happy and healthy future.

Source: The Huffington Post, ""Mommy & Daddy are Getting a Divorce..." AN AGE-BASED GUIDE ON HOW TO TELL YOUR CHILDREN", Ashley Tate Cooper, March 9, 2016

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