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Explain divorce to your kids: All ages are different

When children are involved in a divorce, it can be a troubling time for them. Even when they're teens or adults, the idea of their parents splitting up can be frustrating, surprising and shocking.

For younger children, it's important that care is taken to explain the divorce in an age-appropriate way. If you aren't sure how to do that, then this might help you.

Explaining divorce to toddlers

Young children between the ages of 0 and five, or babies and toddlers, need to be part of the divorce conversation in a specific way. They are still highly reliant on their parents and caregivers, and they may not yet fully understand complex events, their feelings or what the future may entail. For that reason, your job as a parent is to be honest with them in a way they understand. Explaining that mom and dad love them but that they'll be living in different homes is necessary. Explaining the possible routine in the future and who will care for them can help alleviate their fears.

Explaining divorce to children between 6 and 11 years of age

Children between 6 and 11 are more likely able to understand divorce and talk about their feelings. They may have direct questions and have a broader idea of what's happening around them. Some may be familiar with divorces if friends or relatives have gone through them in the past. Older children in this age range may see things in black and white, which means that they may assign blame. For that reason, it's essential to explain the situation but to make sure you accept responsibility and take the blame away from your child. They may feel they're at fault and need you to be reassuring.

Explaining divorce to children from 12 to 14 and beyond

At these ages, children have varied levels of maturity, and the amount they understand and can handle varies. Minimizing conflict, explaining what to expect and having conversations about divorce is most effective for these children. Listen to their concerns and do your best to soothe their fears.

These are a few ways to talk to children who will be going through divorce. You know your child best, so think carefully about how you'll approach this important discussion. The right conversations can help your child understand the situation and be more comfortable with the idea of their parents living apart from one another in the future.

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