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How to talk with kids about divorce and child custody

Parents who are moving toward divorce often dread having to discuss the matter with their kids. A great deal of that fear comes from not knowing how a child will react, as well as worrying about how to structure divorce and child custody conversations. The following tips focus on how kids approach divorce at different ages, and can help parents in Texas and elsewhere formulate a plan for having the "divorce talk" with their own kids.

When children are very young, they will not be able to process complex information. This means that parents of toddlers can avoid the conversation altogether. Once kids reach preschool age, they are able to comprehend that the family's structure is about to change. They are likely to be concerned about how those changes will affect their daily lives, and may also be worried about whether all family members are going to be alright. Kids at this age should be given the basics of what to expect and assured that they will always be loved and that everyone is going to be just fine moving forward.

Once kids are in elementary school, they will likely have more questions about the decision to divorce and the changes ahead. They may ask if their parents have had a fight or if they no longer like one another. It is important to assure them that the decision to divorce is an adult choice and that it is never based on only one factor. They should also be reminded that the love between a parent and child never changes, no matter what.

Once kids reach middle and high school, they may have strong emotional reactions to the news that their parents are about to divorce. Texas parents must take care to make time to discuss the matter with their older kids and should also be prepared to give age-appropriate answers to questions about the specifics. No matter the age of a child who is about to experience his or her parents' divorce, providing love and support will give them the ability to process the child custody changes to come.  

Source: The Huffington Post, ""Mommy & Daddy are Getting a Divorce..." AN AGE-BASED GUIDE ON HOW TO TELL YOUR CHILDREN", Ashley Tate Cooper, March 9, 2016

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