1. Don’t treat the word “divorce” as though it’s a total taboo. Kids are often more perceptive than we think they are. And they are more than capable of figuring out when something is wrong in the lives of the adults around them. Pretending that everything is alright or, worse, refusing to address the issue at all, is only going to cause more heartache. Be open. Communicate. Answer your child’s questions as gently, but as honestly, as you can.
2. Make sure that your child understands that your divorce is not her or his fault. This tip may seem obvious enough, but some kids have an unfortunate tendency to claim guilt for things over which they never had any control. If you are the least bit afraid that your child might be thinking, “My parents were happy before I came along,” then make sure to affirm that you and your spouse both love your child and that this will never change even after the divorce.
3. Don’t just blame your partner for everything. This is the natural follow-up to number 2 in this list. Remember that your spouse is always going to be the other parent to your child even if the two of you are fighting all the time and failing to see eye to eye on anything. You may one day find another significant other or even another spouse or life partner, but your child’s mother or father will always be your child’s mother or father.
4. Create a road map of reassurance. Make sure that your child knows about things like visitation and how that will work out for her or him in the future. Make sure that your child also knows that the other parent will not be cut out of his or her life during important milestones. This could mean birthdays, school events, holidays, or anything else that is important to your child.
By embracing these strategies, you will help to make sure that your child at least understands why her or his parents aren’t together anymore. And your child will know that he or she is still loved. This will make your divorce a little easier for everyone to navigate.