While individuals enter into marriage with a plan to stay together, the reality is that many Illinois couples decide that they are better apart than they are together. This can be an emotional time for both individuals, and particularly tough if children are involved. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were over 26,000 divorces in 2016, the last year that data was available. With this rate of divorce, thousands of children are left unsure of where they fit.

One important way to protect children during divorce is to pick the right time to approach it and the right way to discuss it. How parents explain divorce to children can make a world of difference when it comes to long term adjustment and emotional health.

Healthychildren.org encourages parents to keep the message simple and clear when they discuss divorce with their children. Children also need to be reassured that they are safe and that both parents will be happier once the split happens. They need to be convinced that they will still be able to see both parents and both will play a part in their lives.

How children react to the news can be a good indicator of how parents should handle conversations moving forward. Older children may already be in tune and aware of the fact that something is wrong, while younger children may wonder if the divorce is their fault or if they will still be loved when parents split up.

Parents should approach discussions about divorce with information to keep the kids calm. They will want to know if they will have to change schools or move and how often they will get to see both parents. Couples who are calmer and well-prepared can help their kids handle the transition in a healthy, positive way.