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Charlotte Lankard: Do's and don'ts for divorcing parents

Former executive director of the nonprofit Calm Waters in Oklahoma City gives advice on how divorcing parents should handle their children.
By CHARLOTTE LANKARD Modified: April 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014

When parents decide to divorce, the most difficult thing is telling the children.

I share an office with licensed professional counselor Judith Mee, who works with families facing this issue.

Mee served as executive director of Calm Waters for more than eight years before going into private practice. Calm Waters is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to offer support groups for children after experiencing a loss due to the death of a family member. Under Mee’s leadership, a curriculum was developed to also offer support groups for kids whose parents are divorced.

With her expertise in this area, I asked her for suggestions for parents facing this situation.

DO talk. The first thing she suggests is that parents sit down together when possible, and tell the children what is going to happen and assure them although Mom and Dad will no longer be living together, they will always love the children and will take care of them.

DO NOT badmouth the other parent.

DO NOT fight in front of the child.

DO NOT put the child in the middle — asking him or her to carry messages back and forth or to take sides.

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