Divorce is difficult and confusing for everyone involved, but especially for kids who can feel caught in the middle or like they are supposed to pick one parent over the other. It can be a big burden that parents may not even realize is affecting their kids as much as it is.
It’s important that your child or children understand what is happening, that it isn’t their fault and that they feel comfortable speaking to you about their fears and feelings. You need to explain the divorce in terms that are familiar to them, keep it simple and don’t talk down to them. Here are 5 questions and concerns your child might have and need to be addressed.
What are All My Friends Going to Think if My Parents Get Divorced?
Your child may be concerned that if their friends find out their parents are getting divorced that it would make them weird or stand out. To the contrary, it is very likely that many of their friends and peers have gone through the same situation. Assure them that it doesn’t make them different and that they know others who’s parents are divorced as well.
What is it Like Living in Two Homes After a Divorce?
This might be the scariest part of a divorce to your child. Whose house will they be at and when? What if they forget something at one person’s house that they need for school? What if they leave something else important behind? How will they know where they are going every day?
Creating a calendar and a “to-go” drawer at each house so that nothing is forgotten and your child knows what to expect can help tremendously. Try to make them feel as secure in the new home or homes as they were in the old one. Let them have a say in the décor of their room and help pick out what will go in it if possible.
What About Holidays Post-Divorce?
Your child is likely going to have a hard time spending holidays away from one parent or the other. After learning all these years that holidays are about being with family, it is very difficult to understand that it is okay to spend one holiday with one parent and the next with another. Or, splitting the days up so everyone can celebrate on the holiday. If co-parenting, then everyone will still be in the same house most likely anyway. Just don’t leave them wondering what is happening, discuss your plans with your child.
Where Will My Pet Go if My Parents Get Divorced?
If your child has a strong bond with a pet, it is in their best interest to consider this when thinking about where your child will live and how to discuss this with them if the change means their pet cannot live with them. For example, if you move to a location where pets aren’t allowed. If at all possible, they should stay with their pet as it will help them with the changes going on around them and offer security.
Why Are You Getting a Divorce?
Don’t use phrases like: It’s complicated, You’re too young to know, or You won’t understand. Answer the question clearly and concisely. Do not bring any negative feelings you may be feeling into the conversation, don’t say bad things about one another, do be reassuring. Stay confident in the decision that has been made, any wavering will only cause confusion. Assure them that you still love them very much and that the divorce doesn’t change that.
Divorce is never easy, but if you keep your child informed, reassured and everyone works together it can be something you all get through in time. If you would like more help explaining divorce from a kids’ perspective, our video “Taking the “Duh” Out of Divorce” is an excellent resource and includes a discussion with children of divorced parents as one of the extra features.
Taking the “Duh” Out of Divorce Trailer from Tuk-Tuk Media on Vimeo.