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How to talk to young children about divorce and child custody

Child custody issues can be challenging and emotional for any family going through a divorce. The divorce process can affect all members of the family, including small children. It is best to provide clear details to small children when discussing the divorce process and child custody changes that affect them. It can be helpful, for instance, to explain to small children that they will live at both parents' houses and will have their personal items at both houses.

These considerations should be part of the process of crafting a child custody agreement. While the two parents may have very different ideas about other matters in the divorce, hopefully they agree that they want to minimize the disruption to their children's lives. By carefully creating a parenting plan and putting it into action, they can ease the confusion and stress their children may feel.

It is best to prepare children for what to expect and ensure they understand that the changes are permanent. When parents are clear with their language it helps children adjust and not experience false hope. Make sure, however, that children understand that their parents will not leave or divorce them. It is important for parents to focus on ensuring their children are comforted and enjoy their routine as much as possible during and after the divorce process. This can include ensuring that children have comfort objects, toys and clothes that are familiar to them in both houses.

Change and upheaval should be minimized as much as possible, especially at the beginning of the process. Accordingly, it is also necessary to explain the child's schedule, who will be picking them up and whose house they will go to each day throughout the week. By taking a proactive approach to clearly and plainly explaining the situation to the children, the children will be benefited during the divorce process.

The divorce and child custody process can be difficult for everyone in the family which is why both parents and children should be familiar with what to expect. When parents clearly understand the process, they can effectively explain it to their children and the anxiety sometimes associated with the process may be reduced for everyone.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Steps to Cover When Going Through a Divorce With a Toddler," Natasha Daniels, Sept. 30, 2015

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