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Breaking bad news: telling your kids about your divorce

Sometimes marriages end amicably. Sometimes they end with anger, deception and hurt feelings. Regardless of whether you're viewing your impending separation from your spouse as a positive or negative transition, this change signifies the end of an important constant throughout your child's entire life. When this safety net is taken away, it can make them feel like their whole world is crumbling.

The moment a child learns of their parents' divorce stays with them for the rest of their lives. Breaking this news in an empathetic way can help to minimize their trauma.

Remove your feelings from the equation.

Telling your child about your divorce is not about you--it's about them. If you're working through feelings of resentment or grief surrounding your ending marriage, wait until you're calm before sharing the news with your child. It's important to be in an emotional state where you can focus on your child's feelings and needs.

Plan your message.

This is one conversation where you don't want to improvise. What you say--and how you say it--matters. Put yourself in your child's shoes, and determine what kind of reassurances they'll need. Make sure they know they are loved.

Stay connected.

When a child--or anyone--receives highly upsetting news, they can go into emotional shock and shut down. In times like these, it's important to make sure your child doesn't feel isolated. Put your arm around your child or cradle them. Talk to them at their level, and look them in the eyes. Talk in a slow, soothing voice, and let them know everything will be okay.

It's important to stay attune to your child's feelings when you tell them about your divorce, and be prepared to respond appropriately. Having this conversation in the right way can positively impact them for the rest of their lives.

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