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How to Talk With Your Kids About Divorce, Separation, or an Absent Parent

Apply These Do's and Don'ts When You Talk About Your Kids' Questions


When You Talk With Kids About Divorce or an Absent Parent:
  • Do Tell the Truth - Your children are extremely perceptive. Do not attempt to lie to them or withhold basic information. At the same time, though, be aware of the fine line between answering their questions and telling them more than they need to know.

  • Do Remain Positive - Your children will take their cues from you. Make every effort to remain positive and upbeat, and you'll find that your attitude is contagious. The changes you are making in your life right now may not be the ones that you would have wanted, but life is an adventure, and together you're going to make the best of it.

  • Do Remind Your Children That You Love Them Unconditionally - This is absolutely critical. Even if your kids aren't hinting that they have questions about whether you could ever fall "out of love" with them, tell them explicitly over and over again that you will always love them, no matter what they do. You want them to know that there is absolutely nothing that could ever stop you from loving them!

  • Do Make Sure Your Actions Support Your Words - This one is tricky. We all know that actions speak louder than words, and no where in our lives is this more true than with our kids. However, right now, you're hurting; and you may find it extremely difficult to be patient and caring with your children, when every fiber of your being is screaming for some space to grieve your loss. Try to be aware of whether the messages you are giving to your kids with your words match the messages you are giving them with your actions, and even your body language. Being consistent in this regard may mean that you have to occasionally schedule some time away from your kids, so that you can sort through your own feelings and return home with renewed energy and resolve.

  • Do Be Patient - You may find that your child asks the same questions over and over. This doesn't necessarily mean that you aren't explaining the answers clearly enough. Children often need to hear the same information many times in order for it to make sense in their own minds. In fact, many children will replay these important conversations, while they are resting or playing, and knowing that they have the answers and sequence correct in their minds can be very reassuring.
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