Divorces are always tricky, but they can be especially difficult when children are involved. Here are just 10 ways to help your kids deal with the upcoming changes in their lives.

  1. Gather Them All Together

If you have more than one child, bring everyone to the kitchen table to break the news. While some kids might need one-on-one time with mom or dad after the fact, it’s important to make the initial announcement while everyone is gathered in one place. This includes your ex!

  1. Don’t Assign Blame

Don’t blame your ex for anything that went wrong in your marriage. Not only will your accusations lead to petty, useless squabbling, but they’ll also give your kids the idea that someone should be blamed for your split. If you aren’t careful, your kids will decide that the blame lies with them.

  1. Be Firm

It’s natural that you want to soften the blow when breaking the news to your children, but don’t make the mistake of turning gentleness into indecisiveness. You won’t do them any favors by pretending that things aren’t going to change or that it won’t be without bumps in the road. Talk to divorce support specialists for more information about this.

  1. Answer Their Questions

Your kids will have a lot of questions about what’s ahead. Where will they live? How often will they see the other parent? What about school? What about the dog? Don’t rush your child through their natural progression of questions, and be as honest as possible about your answers. If they’re old enough, you can even admit that you’re still figuring things out.

  1. Allow Them to Express Their Emotions

Your child may run through a wide variety of emotions before they finally settle on “acceptance.” As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else, it’s okay to let them feel whatever they’re feeling. Don’t stop the tears or tantrums. Let them run their course.

  1. Don’t Pump Them for Information

This is one of the most unfair things that you can do to a child of divorce. They aren’t your spy, and you’ll wreak havoc with their emotions if you try to use them like one. Keep your “innocent” questions to yourself no matter how curious you are about your ex’s new life, wife, house, car or job. If necessary, ask yourself how you would feel if you learned that your ex was trying to spy on you.

  1. Divide Their Assets

There’s more to divvying up possessions than deciding who gets the TV. If your child will be splitting their time between you and your spouse, they’ll need to choose what stays at mom’s place and what goes over to dad’s. Try to keep valuable, sentimental items at both locations for maximum emotional security.

  1. Be Polite to Their New Step-Parent

You might feel angry or even jealous that your child is spending time with your ex’s new significant other, but don’t let your negative emotions poison their relationship. Do you really want to deny them a happy bond with someone who loves them just because of your own insecurities?

  1. Give Them a Script

If they’re young, your child might be worried about things like schoolyard introductions or anything else that might reveal that their family is “different.” It can help to give them a script about what to say when someone asks about their parents. For example, their official explanation might be something like this: “My parents don’t live together anymore, but they still love me.”

  1. Prepare for No-Shows

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a parent not showing up for their weekend visitation. Instead of letting your child wait in vain, however, make alternate arrangements to go see a movie or explore the mall together. You’ll help them remember the day as a fun one instead of one filled with disappointment.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you navigate divorce proceedings with your kids. Whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, you’ll need to think about their specific needs, desires and mindsets if you want your separation to work out as painlessly as possible.