Facing divorce with children is rarely easy, especially if your children enjoy a positive relationship with both parents. For many parents, the difficulty of not knowing how to approach the matter with their children serves to postpone divorce and makes it that much more difficult than it has to be when the time does eventually come to discuss it with the children.

If you have concerns about how to talk to your children about divorce, you are not alone. This is a normal response that many parents experience as they come to terms with an imminent divorce. The good news, however, is that you do have tools available to help you approach the topic, and with some careful planning you can present divorce to your children in a way that minimizes the hurt and confusion that they may feel.

Focus on honesty and stability

For most children who struggle with the news of their parent’s impending divorce, the thing that scares them the most is the uncertainty of what the future might hold. Even if things within your home are very tense and divorce may provide relief from that tension, your home is still the primary source of safety and security to you children. They may focus on the threat rather than the relief.

While you may not predict or control how your child reacts to this news, you can emphasize that you are here for them and that neither you nor your spouse plan to abandon them. You can help ease these fears by communicating directly to children that the divorce does not change your love for them, nor does it change the other parent’s love.

Keep children first in the process

When two spouses divorce without children, the process can work itself out relatively quickly and with fewer complications. However, couples with children face a host of issues to resolve before finalizing their divorces, which can stretch out the process and add stress to the families.

As you work with your spouse to create a parenting plan and custody agreement, remain mindful to keep the needs and preferences of your children front and center. Keeping your children safe during divorce may mean both parents taking on extra responsibilities and going the extra mile to communicate clearly with the kids. That can ensure that they have the tools and space they need to work through their own feelings in a healthy way.

Protecting your rights and the needs of your children should always be a priority during divorce. If both parents make it clear to the children that they remain both parents’ main focus, this can go a long way towards easing fears and avoiding lifelong emotional scars. Be sure to consider your children’s needs at all stages of the divorce process and keep those needs in mind as you put together your legal team.