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Explaining divorce to children

New Jersey families who are currently going through a divorce may not understand how to explain the upcoming separation to their children. Parents may be afraid that they will cause permanent damage to their kids or they may be unsure how to even broach the subject. However, once parents have decided to divorce, children need-and have the right-to know what is going on.

It is important to explain to children what divorce means for them and for the family. Having an honest conversation may make the process go much smoother.

Effects on children

The effects of divorce on children vary depending on the situation. For example, a child may welcome the news that his or her parents are divorcing if the home has been a scene of constant conflict. If the conflict ceases after one parent has moved out, then the child will likely adjust fairly well. If, however, the conflict continues, then the child's ability to adapt will be affected.

It is not uncommon for children to feel shocked or angry when told their parents are separating. However, when parents make their kids a priority during a divorce, most recover quite well and show few long-term effects.

How to start the conversation

It is recommended that parents schedule a time and have the conversation with their children together, thus presenting a stable and united front, even in divorce.

It is essential to explain the separation on a level that they will understand. How kids understand what divorce means or entails will vary based on their age group, so it is important to use language that is familiar to them.

One of the most important things to remember when explaining divorce to children, regardless of their age, is not to disparage the other parent. Some parents may attempt to break the news as a way of gaining ground on the other spouse or shifting the blame to them, yet this type of announcement may cause irreparable harm.

What to talk about

It is important to keep the discussion focused on the immediate issues, such as who will continue living with them, what may change, and what will likely happen next. Parents should remind children that they will continue to be involved in their life physically, emotionally and with financial support, even when they are no longer living together.

Divorcing couples also need to remember to listen to their children. Parents should ask them what they are thinking, how they can help ease any stress and what issues are most important to them so that the family can solve problems together. Kids need reassurance that they are valued and important, even as the family dynamic is changing, and that both of their parents love them no matter what.

Randolph area residents who are struggling may want to speak with an experienced attorney in order to help relieve some of the stress and doubt that comes with going through a divorce.