The decision to end a marriage or similar domestic relationship is heartbreaking and difficult; but adults have the mental capacity to process the myriad of emotions that ensue after such upheaval.   Children have not yet experienced complex interpersonal dynamics and have not reached the biological maturity required to do so. 

They are not just little people, they are YOUNG people.

Their needs first.
Sadly, anger is a very common feature of most marriages reaching the end of the line.   The disappointment of dreams gone wrong and bitter resentment can feel overwhelming. 

Learn to compartmentalize.  Store the “toxins” in a part of your brain where your children cannot see it.  As noted below, they are most likely aware of the tension, be careful with what you burden them with.  When they are not around, walk, run, primal scream, vent to your mother/best friend/therapist.  Your feelings aren’t evil, just not rated for children.

  • Don't put your kids in the middle
  • Fight in private
  • Never undermine the other parent

Communicate clearly and respectfully with your children. 
Children are highly and deceptively intuitive; they may look lost in the world of Legos and books, but don’t be fooled, they have antennae for parental discord.  It is wise to assume that they notice keenly the change in the family climate.  Unfortunately, without your guidance they will assume that they are to blame for the tension; developmentally they are still centered on self.   Only you can find the right approach to communicate with your child, do so – preferably as a couple, as it will reassure him/her that despite challenges you remain united in your commitment to his/her well-being.

Create a new relationship with your ex-spouse.
Enter into this post-separation life resolving that despite all of the negative feelings you may have at the moment toward your ex, that individual remains co-creator of your most precious gifts; as such, you will always have a bond – and always is a long time, do you really choose to carry the weight of anger forever?  If you must, fake it until you make it.  It’s not obligatory that you much like your ex-partner, but civility, respect and grace is what you want your children to model. 

Decide that your children will not come from a broken home; they are just going to have two homes.