Kids usually have a lot of questions about divorce. They often wonder where they’ll live, when they’ll see the non-custodial parent and how their lives will change. Giving them thorough, age-appropriate answers can help allay their fears and reassure them that they’ll be fine—but that’s often easier said than done.
Before you break the news to your kids, consider asking your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer for a referral to a local counselor who specializes in divorce. In many cases, talking to an outside party can provide you with fresh insight on how to answer your kids’ questions about divorce. Additionally, a trained specialist can talk to your children and help them cope effectively once you’ve broken the news.
Age-Appropriate Answers to Kids’ Divorce Questions
Small children don’t have the same long-term thinking patterns that bigger kids do, so they may ask questions that are more immediate in nature. The older your child is, the more likely he or she is to ask about child custody agreements and how your divorce affects the entire family. While you should almost always avoid giving your child the sordid details, being honest and providing as much information as you can are usually the best options.
In most cases, it’s best if both parents tell kids about the divorce while presenting a united front.
Infants and Toddlers: Infants are very attuned to their caregivers’ moods. While you won’t have to give explanations to an infant, trying to stay upbeat and attentive will help your baby through the transition of divorce. Toddlers may experience separation anxiety when they have to say goodbye to the noncustodial parent, and letting them know it’s okay to experience emotions will go a long way toward helping them cope.
Preschoolers and Elementary-Aged Kids: Generally, using language you know your preschooler or young child can understand is best. They may ask simple, direct questions, like “When is Daddy coming home?” In cases like these, be very clear; reply with an answer that lets your child know Daddy has his own house, but that doesn’t change the love he feels for your little one—and add reassurances like “You will see Daddy in three days, and you’ll spend the night at his house.”
‘Tweens and Teens: Your older kids will probably ask questions about the reasons behind your divorce. Don’t give them the emotional details or bad-mouth the other parent, but do give them answers that they’re capable of understanding that don’t paint the other parent in a negative light, even if it’s well-deserved. Saying “Mom cheated on me” is off-limits; instead, say something like “Mom and I decided that we’d be happier if we followed our own paths, but we both love you very much, and that’s one thing we’ll always have in common.”
It’s never easy to answer kids’ questions about divorce, particularly if you’re still dealing with emotional trauma. There’s no harm in asking your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer for a referral to an expert. In fact, most people find that working with a third party is extremely helpful. Your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer may be able to help you find someone for you and your kids to talk to so you’ll all come out stronger and more capable of coping with future issues.