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What to say to young children about divorce and child custody

Divorcing couples may sometimes be unaware of the impact their divorce can have on their children. Some simple pointers concerning how to talk young children during divorce can be helpful. It is important to explain the divorce process in straightforward and simple terms to young children. When approaching young children, parents should carefully explain how the divorce will impact them.

Parents can explain to children that instead of one house, set of toys and set of clothes, the children will now live in two houses with each of their parents separately and will have two sets of toys and clothes, one at each house. It is important to prepare children for what to expect and to prepare them for the permanency of the change. Preparing children in advance for the reality of the changes associated with divorce is the best approach when discussing the divorce process with young children.

It is important to reassure children, as well, that neither parent is leaving them but that the living arrangements will be different. Similarly, it is important to maintain routines the children are familiar with and important that they know their daily schedules. It is helpful to provide schedule reminders. During the divorce process, children need comfort and providing information, even to young children, proactively can help them through the process.

Understanding the divorce and child custody process, and what to expect, can help prepare parents for the process so they can provide as much certainty for their children as possible throughout it. It is important not to allow emotions to dominate the process or to dominate when providing explanations to young children and the more parents understand what is happening, the better explanations they will be able to provide for their children.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler," Natasha Daniels, Sept. 30, 2015

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