1. Sit down and have a conversation with your kids. It is very important that you and your partner find a time and sit down together to explain to your children that you decided to get a divorce. Otherwise, you may create unnecessary anxiety. It is always better to say it, even if it hurts.
2. Explain with simple words why you and your partner made that decision, without burdening them with unnecessary details. Try and avoid blaming one another.
3. Give the same consistent message – if you say one reason for the divorce and your partner another, you will end up confusing your children, especially if they are young. Discuss this with your partner in advance and try to agree on what you will be sharing with your children.
4. Let them know that it’s not their fault. It is not unusual for young children to blame themselves and to associate their “bad” behaviors with the reason for the separation. Let them know that it was nothing that they did or did not do.
5. Tell them that you love them and that you will always be there for them.
6. Speak respectfully about your ex. Bad mouthing your ex is probably the worst thing you can do for your children – they deserve to have a “good mommy” and a “good daddy” despite what went wrong between the two of you. Stress your ex’s good qualities and avoid degrading him/her in front of the kids.
7. Get along with your ex. You do not need to be going out for dinner or chat frequently on the phone to get along with your ex. All you need to do is communicate respectfully regarding all parenting issues of your children. This is often much easier said than done so if this is the case, do seek professional counseling to help you get along better for the sake of the children.
8. Create predictability – be as consistent and as predictable as possible and establish rules that create a sense of safety and security in your home.
9. Explain your custody agreement to the kids and follow it – knowing when and for how long they will get to see you plays an essential part in the predictable and safe environment you want to create for your kids.
10. Date – the most important thing for your kids is to know that you are happy and in a healthy, loving relationship with someone, who cares about you and your family. When you find the right person and are ready to commit to them again, make them a step-parent and model a mature, loving relationship for your kids. One day when they grow up, they will thank you for taking care of yourself first and providing a stable home environment for them.