Parents often want to shield their children from the negative impact of a divorce, trying to make the transition as smooth as possible. That is important, and much of the child custody plan will be geared around helping the children live their lives as normally as they can.

However, parents shouldn’t take things so far that they don’t talk to the kids about the divorce, the changes it’s going to bring, how life is going to work moving forward, and what it means for the family. Shielding children is one thing, but parents must realize that kids are going to be impacted. Talking about this can help them through it.

While talking to the kids, whether you’re addressing where they’re going to live or why the divorce happened, it’s also important to be honest. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear. Just be honest and upfront when answering questions.

Don’t ask them to take sides, even if you don’t get along with your ex. Attempt to appear united so that your children still look at you both as important fixtures in their lives.

Of course, you need to consider the children’s ages. Your three-year-old son may get simple answers from you, while you need to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with your 17-year-old daughter. However, no matter how old your children are or how much you tell them, just make sure you’re honest.

Children are likely going to have many questions about the child custody agreement and the parenting plan, as these most directly impact their daily lives. Talk to them, get their input, and always consider their best interests when crafting this legal plan.

Source: Help Guide, “Children and Divorce,” accessed Jan. 13, 2017