Your kids are old enough to understand what it means when you tell them you’re getting divorced. They may not understand all of the little details behind why you are doing it, but they know what it means. You have to be open and honest with them as you move through this process.

Over the years, a lot of experts have studied divorce to determine how it affects kids. These studies can be useful, but there is one other tactic that gets right to the source: asking kids themselves about that impact.

Below are a few things kids had to say about divorce:

  1. It made them take on responsibilities and care for their siblings. One boy knew that his younger sister felt scared and confused, so he redoubled his efforts to be kind and supportive to help her through.
  2. They noticed the financial strain. One mother had to work two and sometimes three jobs to pay all the bills. The kids absolutely noticed that their mother was not always around and that they never had some of the luxury items their friends enjoyed.
  3. They felt relieved that a bad marriage ended. One teen knew the marriage turned sour and wished it would end even before it did.
  4. They blamed their parents for their own actions. Some children acted out and used their parents as an excuse for everything. They would never take responsibility and likely found it far easier to just shift the blame to the failed marriage.
  5. They did not like when one parent insulted the other. One girl lived with her mother, for instance, and went to see her father on the weekends. She eventually hated those visits, which kids are supposed to enjoy, because of all the negative things her father would say about her mother.
  6. The stress didn’t go away when they grew up. Those family divides still played a role in their lives as adults.
  7. They felt happy when their parents thrived in their post-divorce lives. They liked to see that success, even if it took years for things to smooth out after the split.

Looking at the way that kids take divorce can help you address their concerns up front. For instance, you and your ex may want to consider ground rules in your parenting plan such as:

  • No badmouthing one another.
  • No fighting in front of the kids.
  • Helping each other financially to make their lives easier.
  • Holding children accountable for their actions.
  • Doing everything possible to reduce stress and conflict for the kids’ sake, even when you don’t get along.

It’s incredible important to understand not only your rights and legal options when going through a divorce, but what steps you can take to build the best possible future for your children.