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How to tell the kids about the divorce

One of the biggest struggles divorcing Massachusetts parents face is how to tell the children that their parents are divorcing or ending their long-term relationship. Below are some tips for breaking the news to your kids in the most painless way possible.

-- Only discuss the issue if it is an actuality and not a possibility. There is no need to induce worry in your offspring needlessly if working through your problems is still on the table.

-- Decide between the two of you what will be said and how. Keep it age appropriate and don't overload them with unnecessary information. Agree ahead of time that neither parent will blame the other.

-- Make sure that the children know that this has nothing to do with them. Kids are by nature egocentric and tend to irrationally blame themselves. They want to know in very concrete ways how this will affect them and that both parents will still continue to love them very much.

-- Plan ahead to tell them when they have time to process the information and ask whatever questions they need to in order to get a better understanding. If you can't tell them together, each parent should talk to them separately and allow them to vent.

-- Honesty is important, and it's okay for your children to see that Mommy and Daddy are sad, too. But don't break down in front of them and let them attempt to comfort you. It's a parent's to job to comfort their children. Don't manipulate their emotions or use them as a pint-size messenger service.

-- Understand that just because you've had "the talk" about the new normal, this is not the final chapter and they may have many more questions later when they've had time to think about the reality of the situation.

-- Let others in your children's extended support network know what's up. This may include their friends' parents, teachers, coaches or others who interact with them regularly and can alert you to any self-destructive or aberrant behavior patterns.

-- Maintain routines as much as possible to give them a sense of stability when their world has been rocked by divorce.

-- Reach out to legal professionals for referrals for counseling if necessary to help them get through this rocky transition.

Source: Huffington Post, "9 Tips for Breaking Bad News to Kids" Armin Brott, Aug. 04, 2014

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