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Explaining divorce to younger family members

Divorce is hard enough when two people are involved; when children are part of the picture, matters can quickly become confusing. Many Kentucky residents may wonder, who will get custody? Will the child's routine undergo change? Will the child understand? This last question is one that plagues many, as explaining a marital separation -- especially to younger ears -- can prove to be complicated. 

Fortunately, there are many resources parents can turn to when approaching the topic of divorce with children., a branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics, offers advice on discussing divorce with young family members. Parents may look to the following tips when beginning the conversation:

  • Remind children that they are safe
  • Keep the message clear and straightforward
  • Ensure children understand the situation is not their fault 

The first pointer can be paramount to a child's wellbeing, as divorce can seem to uproot all areas of life. To a child, this can present many emotional disturbances. also emphasizes the simplicity of the discussion; parents should convey the message in a way that is easy for children to understand. Of course, reminding children that the situation is not their fault can make for a smoother process.

Parents magazine also offers insight on holding these difficult meetings, noting that patience is key. Being open about the divorce process instead of hiding painful facts can also be beneficial in the long run. Although children do not need to hear every detail, it is important not to give false hope (such as the false promise that parents may one day get back together). New needs may move to the forefront, as well, since new schedules and routines can easily confuse children. There might not be an easy way of looking at divorce, but families can work together for support throughout the process. 


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Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold

225 West Irvine Street
Richmond, KY 40475

Toll Free: 800-494-9916
Phone: 859-353-0878
Fax: 859-623-6406
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Richmond, KY 40476