Preparing children for life during and after a divorce

When married parents in Pennsylvania decide to divorce, a daunting task can be telling the children the news and helping them to understand what this means for their lives. As you prepare to have this conversation with your children, it may be helpful to preemptively consider their likely concerns during this adjustment period.

Going through a divorce and adjusting to the major changes this brings to everyday life can be challenging for parents and children alike. Before you begin this new experience, it's important to prepare for how the family will function during and after a divorce. Consider some tips as you and your soon to be former spouse prepare to guide children through this next phase in life.

Work together to form a plan

Despite the fact that the marriage is ending, your relationship with your spouse is likely far from over. After a divorce, the two of you will likely find yourselves in a shared parenting dynamic of some kind. As co-parents, you will need to find a manageable balance as you share parenting roles and responsibilities.

To begin this new dynamic on solid footing, consider planning to share the news of a divorce with children together. Hearing the news from both parents can show the kids that their family unit isn't ending, but rather changing. The two of you are still responsible for the wellbeing of the children, which means working together even through the marital dissolution.

Decide your key talking points

What do you want to convey to the children as you tell them about a divorce? What is the most important information for them to know? You can likely predict many of their concerns and address those accordingly in this conversation. Have an initial parenting plan and schedule in place so they can understand how this news affects their typical routine.

A child's reaction can vary depending on many factors. They may feel sad, confused or angered by this news, or they may feel relief that their family strife may come to an end. The best thing you can do as a parent is accept their response and keep an open dialogue throughout the divorce process. Questions and concerns can arise at any time, so let them know that you are both available to talk and listen long past this first conversation.

Provide a safe harbor

Divorce and custody arrangements can be stressful times for children to go through. As they navigate this new family dynamic, parents can provide a source of consistency and reliability. Children benefit from a stable environment, so you can both do your part to foster this environment and leave negativity out of their earshot.

Divorcing as a parent can bring a wealth of new worries, but it is by no means insurmountable to handle. Consider the many resources available ranging from family counselors and psychologists to legal experts and other parents. You and your family can handle this adjustment with prudent, thoughtful planning.

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