One of the more difficult moments in a divorce is telling your children. While it is recommended that parents tell their children about the divorce together, sometimes one parent decides to tell the children his or her story alone.
According to family therapist Diane Shearer, parents should look past the questions about the divorce and answer the questions kids really want to know. “When kids ask tough questions, they aren’t looking for complicated answers. They are looking for affirmation, not information.” This means that your kids want reassurance that both parents love them, regardless of the circumstances and that the parents recognize the children’s emotions.
Here are some tips on three of the most common questions kids have when going through their parents’ divorce:
Children want to know the reason behind the break up. According to Shearer, the child really seeks and affirmation of love and the child’s subconscious logic may be, if mom and dad stop loving each other, can they stop loving me too? While the kids don’t need to be told all of the reasons for the divorce, both parents should provide reassurance to the children that they still love him or her and they will continue to be a family; just in a different way than before.
2. Is it my fault?
Children, especially younger children, can be self-centered and often will wonder if something they did caused the divorce. The most important response both parents can provide the child is that the complications of the marriage are wholly unrelated to the child.
3. Where will I live?
A child will, most certainly, want to know how the divorce will affect his or her life. Before offering the child with an answer, it is best to have a decision worked out between the parents about this, even if it is a temporary parenting plan. Let the kids know that they can provide information and express their feelings to you about the arrangements at any time. In providing this information, it is recommended that the parents tell the child where they will be, when, and for how long. If an arrangement hasn’t been reach, don’t involve your kids in the conflicts you may be having with your spouse and always speak respectfully about your ex in your answers.