Going through a divorce is a mixed bag of feelings for everyone involved, especially children. They may have numerous questions and concerns about the changes happening in their family dynamics.
Kids ask lots of questions, and these may happen immediately or down the road as they process their reality.
We have curated a list of possibilities:
1. Why are Mom and Dad, or Mom and Mom, or Dad and Dad getting divorced?
This is one of the most common questions children ask. It's important to provide age-appropriate explanations and reassure them that the decision is not their fault.
Emphasize that you have grown apart and that the divorce has nothing to do with their love for the child or children.
Let them know that you want them to express their feelings about the situation with either of you.
2. Will I still see both of you?
Children worry about losing contact with one or both parents after a divorce. Reassure them that they will continue to have a relationship with both parents. Explain the custody arrangement or, for kinder, gentler words, their new schedule (note see our blog on schedules) in a way that they can understand and let them know that both parents still love and care for them.
3. Will you get back together?
Children may hold onto hope that their parents will reconcile. Be honest but gentle in your response, explaining that sometimes people decide they are happier apart.
Assure them that both parents will always be there for them, even though they won't live together. This is a big one. Children may not at first ask this; it could be days or months, but in my situation, it was years later – that one of my children asked, would you be happier married to Daddy? Or are you ever getting back together? The problematic answer (unless you plan on reconciling) – is a simple reinforcement of the word “No.” NOTE: do not say probably not, or that’s a possibility. Children take this to heart and find hope when you will disappoint them later.
Followed by our family is still family, though we live apart. We both love you unconditionally, and we grew apart and feel that this is the best way for us to be happier as we get older.
4. Is it my fault?:
Children often blame themselves for their parents' divorce. It's crucial to emphasize that it is not their fault and that the decision is solely between the parents; explain that sometimes adults must make hard decisions to become better parents. Again, reassure them they are loved unconditionally, regardless of the divorce.
5. Will we have to move?
Children may worry about changes in their living situation. Be open and honest about any potential moves, explaining the reasons behind them.
Assure them that their well-being is a priority and that both parents will work together to create a stable and loving home for them.
This is another one because no matter what, the person who moves out is the person who is to blame for this situation at hand, even though, most times, it is a mutual decision. Tread carefully on this topic and get the children involved in picking out their room, colors, and more.
6. Can I still have holidays and celebrations?
Children may fear that divorce will disrupt family traditions and special occasions. Reassure them that holidays and celebrations will still be cherished and that new traditions can be created post-divorce. Show them that both parents will make efforts to create positive memories.
Some families find new traditions, and some children are old enough to want traditions to stay the course. At any rate, please set expectations for the child due to the fact they are holding on to the past (which is totally fine); however, establishing new or modified traditions is key.
7. Will you stop fighting?
Divorce often arises from conflicts, which can be distressing for children. Assure them that although the parents will no longer be together, they will strive to maintain a peaceful and respectful co-parenting relationship. Emphasize that their well-being is prioritized.
Let’s say, in other words, there was no fighting but so much tension you could cut through it with a knife. This is the hardest to explain because, in a child’s mind – no fighting means you are/were happy with your partner. As adults, this is tough; focus on the part you grew apart, and you want each other to be satisfied in the long run.
8. Can I see my friends and pets?
Kids may worry about losing connections with friends and beloved pets due to changes in living arrangements. Reassure them that their relationships with friends and pets will be maintained and they will still have opportunities to spend time with them.
Also, remind them they can make new friends at one of their new homes.
9. Is it normal to feel sad or angry?
Validating a child's emotions is crucial during this difficult time. Let them know that it is entirely normal to feel sad, angry, or confused about the divorce. Encourage open communication and let them know that their feelings will be acknowledged and supported.
Answer as many questions as you can, however, be completely honest; kids are so intuitive that they will read right through you. Also, tell them you feel that way sometimes; it's expected we are all human.
10. Will you get remarried?
Children may have concerns about their parents moving on and finding new partners. Be open to this question and explain that it is possible, but reassure them that the child will always be loved and cared for.
Though you may find a new partner to spend the rest of your life with and realize the kids may love or hate them. Try as hard as you can to make this a smooth transition and slowly integrate your new partner.
Understanding the questions and concerns that children often have during a divorce is essential in supporting them through this challenging time. Responding with empathy, honesty, and reassurance can help alleviate their worries and ensure they feel loved and secure throughout the process.
By addressing these top 10 questions, parents can foster a sense of stability and understanding in their children as they navigate the complexities of divorce.
We hope this helps you at least begin the conversation with your kids.
Time to Dish:
· What type of questions have you received? How did you answer them?
· Do you have a cordial relationship with your ex? If not, this is hard to navigate, but list some ways that could help this transition.
· There is often trauma in a divorce situation; if the kids have seen this – they may ask more detailed questions. How will you answer?