You’ve decided to get a divorce. Now it’s time to tell your children and you haven’t a clue how to do it.

Getting a divorce is full of challenges, and like a person in a rowboat cast adrift in a storm at sea, you’re probably paddling and bailing as fast as you can to stay afloat. Emotions are hard to control, the pendulum swings from dark despair to hot fury and everything in between. You grieve for the end of your marriage and your broken family unit.

Even for the calmest parents, panic often sets in when it comes time to tell the children about a pending divorce. If you’re a divorcing parent, a barrage of questions assaults your already strained and confused mind. What do we tell the kids? When do we tell them? How do we tell them? It’s enough to send you scurrying into a corner to hide, putting off the inevitable.

Keeping yourself together is hard enough, so you may wonder how on earth you are going to be there to support and love your children at such a trying time. First and foremost, you are the adult, and you must be strong and present for them. They will have questions. They will probably be angry. Just as you must come to terms with your emotions, so must your children. Be there to support and comfort them.

As far as what you tell them; honesty must be the core value to your answers. Withholding information, avoiding the topic, or lying will only damage your relationship with your children and may be harder to repair than the upheaval of divorce. But, how much you tell them depends on their age, and adult details are not appropriate at any time. When you should tell them is a decision you and your spouse should make together. How is simple; both parents should be there when the children are told. Preparing in advance what you will say is helpful.

There are some simple rules for parents to follow: never fight in front of the children, never ask them to choose sides, and never put the other parent down in their presence. This isn’t the entire list, but you get the picture.

Probably one of the most beneficial decisions you can make as divorcing parents is agreeing to divorce amicably— you must make your children’s welfare a priority. Statistics show that ugly legal battles damage children, and that damage remains with them throughout their entire lives. Period. You can survive divorce, you can transition into two households and remain a strong, loving family, and you can be great co-parents. The key is putting your children’s welfare above your own.