For many parents who are thinking of ending their relationships, nothing is more daunting than actually telling the children about that upcoming divorce. Parents have time to think about it, consider it and plan for it. Kids do not. They may feel blindsided, they may not want it to happen and they may feel like they have no control. It can be hard for them.

To make it go smoothly, consider your children’s best interests to tell them in a way that caters to their needs and their well-being. For instance, tell all of your children at the same time so no one child knows before the others. Tell them at a family meeting, with both parents present, and take the time to answer their questions. Remember that your concerns and theirs will not always be the same.

To help you, here are four things you definitely want to tell the children:

You’ll be loved equally in both homes

Stress to the children that the way you both love them will never change. They’ll still have a strong relationship with you and your ex. They can feel comfortable and at home in both houses. You’ll work hard to make sure their lives stay as good as possible in this new situation.

We will both feel happier

You and your spouse may not feel happy in your marriage, and the divorce can bring about positive changes for both of you. Even when it’s hard, you know that you’ll both feel happier overall, and that will make you better parents. Show the kids that they can view this as a positive change, not a negative one.

You have a voice

The children need to know that you hear them and you care about what they have to say. Ask for their opinions. Welcome their feedback. Just let them vent if that’s what they need to do. Stress that they are a part of this situation and they can get involved.

You won’t lose either of us

Tell them that Mom and Dad are not going anywhere. You both plan to stay involved and take on an active role in their lives. You’ll be there for holidays, birthday parties and school events. You’ll share custody so that you can both see them. They may not see you both together as much anymore, but they will still see you consistently.

Parental rights

After talking to the children, use these four areas to help you work toward a viable child custody arrangement and a parenting plan. Be sure you understand your rights and what you can do to put your kids first.