Divorce can be especially hard on children. In many cases, they may think that it is their fault that their parents are splitting up. Also, the constant shuffle back and forth between one parent's home and another can be extremely stressful. While coming to the decision to divorce is never easy, you may view the task of talking to your kids about shared custody to be even more difficult.
Unless there are certain circumstances that make one parent unfit, such as abuse, courts tend to favor joint, or shared, custody. The reason for this is that various studies support the notion that children in a shared custody situation often do better than those in a sole custody arrangement.
Do it together
The best way to tell your children about the new situation is to do it together. While it may be a tough idea to swallow, you will have to work with your future ex-husband to determine when and how to tell the kids about the divorce and shared custody situation. Decide what each of you will say and be available to spend time answering questions.
Leave the drama out of it
Do not use this as an opportunity to explain all the reasons why you can no longer be married to their father. Keep your feelings and reasons to yourself and do not start blaming your spouse for the split. Doing this can cause your children to experience heightened stress. Remember that your conflict with your ex is not their conflict and they should not feel like they have to choose sides.
Include good news with the bad
To soften the blow, be sure to emphasize what will stay the same for your children. For example, if you are keeping your home in Randolph, remind them that they will still be staying in their school and will not be leaving their friends. While explaining the new living arrangements, try to keep things as positive as possible.
Provide as many details as necessary about the change. For example, let your children know that they will live with you during the week and spend the weekends with their father. While making it clear when and where they will see their father will provide a certain amount of comfort, too many details might create anxiety. Keeping a calendar with the dates and times they will be with their other parent can help your kids feel more secure about the arrangement.
If you are considering divorce and you have children, you will have to work out a custody arrangement for your children. You and your ex may be able to come to an agreement about the custody schedule, but be sure to get court approval so that you have options in case your ex ever violates it.