Telling your children that Mom and Dad are splitting up is never easy. After you and your spouse move into separate homes, your child will be faced with the harsh reality that they will not see both of their parents every day. In many cases, children of divorced parents spend a lot of time traveling back and forth between the home of their mother and father. This new way of life can be very hard on small children, and teenagers may take the separation personally. Here are a few tips you can use to tell your child about your custody agreement after the divorce.

Reassure Your Child 

Your child may feel like they are caught in the middle of their parents’ divorce and that they have to choose sides. It’s important to let them know that nothing has changed in regards to how much you love them. Reassure them that both you and your spouse will continue to be there for them, even though you’re not together anymore.

Be Completely Honest

When it comes to explaining your custody agreement to your child, there is no need to sugarcoat the situation or try to hide the facts. You need to be completely upfront and honest about the arrangement with your child so they aren’t faced with any surprises. Use language they can understand and remain calm, but don’t put off telling them the truth for the sake of protecting their feelings in the short run.

Ask for Their Input

Depending on the situation and your child’s age, it may be appropriate for them to have input on the custody agreement. Asking your child what they think about the arrangement can allow them to retain some sense of control over their life during this hard time. Even if they don’t have a say in the custody schedule, you can give them space to voice their feelings or let them pick out the decor for their new room at the other parent’s home.

Don’t Take Things Personally

After your divorce, your child may lash out in anger and say hurtful things they don’t really mean. Try as hard as you can to stay calm and don’t engage in fighting. Being kind, compassionate, and understanding will benefit you and your child as you both navigate the new custody agreement.

Encourage Your Child to Love Your Ex

One of the most harmful things you can do is try to turn your child against the other parent. Your child custody lawyer will encourage you to speak positively about your ex in front of your child. It’s important to remember your divorce is about you and your ex-spouse, not your children. Tell them about the custody agreement, but leave the dirty details of your divorce out of the conversation.

Divorce is not easy on any member of the family, and this big a change can severely disrupt a child’s life. If you follow these tips and minimize disruptions, you can make the custody agreement work a little better for everyone involved.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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