How to gently talk to your kids about divorce

"Mommy and daddy are getting divorced," These are the dreaded words all parents hope they will never have to utter. But, the reality is 40% to 50% of married couples in the United States get divorced.

And while divorce can be traumatic for you, one of the hardest aspects is also how it affects your kids. Of course you want to shield them from any pain and suffering, but some degree of pain is always inevitable.

The key is communication—the way you communicate with your children about your divorce will be etched in their memory forever.

Research shows that three factors help children of any age adjust after divorce. First, having a strong relationship with both parents. Second, good parenting (no shocker there!), and third, minimal exposure to conflict.


Mamas, here are some helpful tips on how to survive this turbulent and trying time:

Timing is everything

If you and your spouse are considering a separation or divorce, keep it to yourselves until you know for sure. Your kids are on a need-to-know basis and they do not need to know until your decision is final. Children do not flourish in uncertain circumstances. They flourish in knowing exactly what their future holds, so hold tight.

Obviously there is never a "good" time to break the divorce news, but make sure that when you do, you have plenty of time afterwards to stay near to your children. You will need to offer plenty of hugs and reassurances and not rush off to a sports practice or birthday party.

Tell your children together

Even if you are disagreeing about everything, try to agree on what to tell your children. Ideally, parents should break the news as a team. Telling your children together avoids confusion—they will hear only one version of the story, which demonstrates that it was a mutual decision.

Children prefer a message that avoids parents blaming each other. Instead, ensure you both take ownership of the marriage ending. This united front will protect your children from feeling that they may have caused the divorce, or that they must align with one parent and reject the other.

Keep communication simple, and speak in terms your children will understand. Be as honest and straightforward as you can, while taking into consideration your child's age and emotional maturity.

After you finish, be prepared for a lot of questions or none at all. Questions could range from “Where will I live and go to school?," “Which parent will be moving out?," or “Who will look after me and how often will I see you both?". Kids just want to know how their life will be affected, so be supportive, compassionate, and prepared with concrete answers.

Avoid the blame game

However angry you might be, don't blame your spouse for the breakup, and avoid arguing in front of your children. Also keep to yourself any details about any extramarital affair or financial problems.

You may feel so upset that you want to tell your children about your spouse's “behavior," but they will take this as a betrayal—or worse, criticism of them. Your ex is your child's best friend (other than you) so be conscious of what you say because your children are on high alert.

Spare your children the details

Don't make your kitchen table divorce central. Keep divorce papers out of sight—especially from a child who can read — and don't discuss legal issues, even on the phone, when your children could overhear you.

If there's a custody evaluation—which entails home visits by a mental health professional to observe and interview the children and family—minimize the impact by not building it up too much or coaching your children on what to say.

Look out for unusual behavior

Don't be surprised if your children show signs of unusual behavior. For example, insecurity, regression with sleep or potty training, anger or naughtiness, clinginess or attention seeking. Remember, divorce is scary for children. Some kids will be openly sad or angry, while others may deny they have any feelings at all about it. And all of these emotions and more can flare at any time, and swing from minute to minute.

There will be good days and bad days. Take each a day at a time. You'll also be experiencing these emotions so be sure to surround yourself with a strong village of family and friends!

Take care of YOU

Take care of you mom. Many states require both parents to attend court ordered parenting classes. Parents attend lectures or complete the course online in order to build their confidence in handling the stress of the divorce. To find classes, check with your lawyer or mediator, doctor or therapist.

And if you're thinking you can handle this life-changing chapter alone I urge you to re-think and seek assistance. By giving yourself permission to talk and grieve your marriage, you'll be better able to care of your children. Keep your parenting simple and don't over extend during this trying time.

If your only parents goals are to spend as much time with your kids as you can sanely handle, and get them to bed and fed on a consistent schedule, then you are still providing crucial elements to raising healthy children.

No matter how the conversation goes and the divorce proceedings unfold, always remind yourself you are NOT a bad parent for getting a divorce. Life after divorce is possible!

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

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It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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