Whether you've yet to break the news of your divorce or you've been divorced for some time now, your kids are likely to present you with some challenging questions about it.
If you're not quite sure how to go about answering them, here are a few helpful approaches you can take to the most common questions.
Why don't you love my other parent anymore?
This question is likely to come after breaking the news of the divorce. The important thing to recognize is that most children just want to gain their parent's love and acceptance. Avoid tampering with this view of your ex.
Explain that the other parent is loveable and loves your child immensely. But, while you and your ex care about one another, you're no longer a good fit for marriage.
If you're asked "Why?" again, don't disclose the details of your relationship with the other parent. It's only necessary for your child to understand that it's not working and that doesn't make either parent unlovable or bad.
Why can't you just say you're sorry?
We hope to teach our children to compromise, so it's only natural that they may suggest you compromise with your ex-spouse. Praise your child for having this mentality.
It may be challenging, but again try to explain that no matter how many times you compromise, you and the other parent no longer make a good match together.
Will you ever get back together?
It will be difficult for your child not to hang on to hope that things will go back to normal.
While it's okay to tell your child that you are sad about the marriage's end, make sure he or she knows that this is a firm end.
Are you seeing someone else?
If you are dating soon after the divorce, it may not be best to share this with a child who is navigating big life changes. However, after a while, this question is bound to come up.
Be open with your child and make sure to ask them how they feel about you dating. Work through these emotions with them and explain that no one will take their other parent's place.
What do I tell everyone?
Don't tell your child that the divorce is a secret. You should break the news to the rest of your family right before or right after you tell your children.
Tell your kids that they can talk about the divorce with their friends or relatives when and if they feel comfortable doing so.
What's going to happen to me (and my siblings)?
Perhaps the biggest concern for your child will be how this decision will change his or her life. Understandably, they'll likely feel these changes are very unfair. Common questions may include:
- Will I have to change schools?
- Will I still be with my sibling?
- Who am I going to live with?
- Who will take me to soccer practice?
- Will you still be close to me?
You aren't likely to have the answers to these questions right away. Tell your child that you will do everything you can to look out for what's important to them, but that big changes to come will be uncomfortable for everyone.
A skilled family law attorney can help you make decisions with your child's best interests in mind child's best interests while also easing you into this big transition. As you and your child learn to accept this change, make sure to keep the door open about discussing the divorce whenever they have questions.