Telling your child about your divorce can be a painful and challenging experience. Children often don’t understand the situation or know how to manage their feelings. They may feel confused and afraid of what will happen to them after you separate.
Although the conversation may be difficult, knowing which questions to anticipate can prepare you for your child’s reaction and help you craft an answer that will give them the time and space they need to cope with the news.
1. Why are you getting a divorce?
This is the most common question children ask their parents. It can be the most difficult one too. Explaining the reasons behind your divorce can be painful, especially if you are still wondering why yourself.
You should always answer honestly, but be careful not to overshare. With younger children, a vague, positive answer can sometimes be better. Also, remind your child that you will always love them and that your divorce isn’t their fault in any way.
2. Are you going to get back together?
This may seem like an odd question, but many children don’t fully understand that divorce is a permanent separation. While your honest answer might be difficult for your child to hear or comprehend, it’s better to tell them the truth than to instill false hope in them.
3. Where am I going to live?
Children often worry about how divorce will affect their lives. They may be concerned that they will have to make sacrifices that will turn their worlds upside-down. One of these fears includes where they’re going to live. They might be afraid of having to move away from their school, friends or even the other parent.
Even though you may not have living arrangements worked out yet, it’s important to reassure your child that they don’t need to worry about having to upend their life to accommodate your divorce. When a judge determines custody in court, they defer to the best interests of the child, meaning they make their decision based on what will benefit your child. This often means keeping them near their friends and school.
During your divorce, it’s essential to reinforce that you are there for your child. While it can be challenging, maintaining support and honesty can help everyone get through this difficult time in a healthy way.