26 Feb Kids’ questions about divorce
What are the most common questions kids have about divorce?
Separation and divorce are very difficult situations to accept for children. When parents separate, children hope that one day their parents will get back together. When the divorce is finalised, children have lost that hope and start a process of grieving. They have lost a family and very often they feel they have lost a parent too (generally the one not living with them).
Very often small children ask if we can help their parents get back together.
Older children understand that divorce is final and it is the end of their family life (however, older children’s pain is not less than younger children’s).
A lot of children ask if they are the ones who caused the separation and divorce. When parents do not explain to their children the reasons why they have separated, children very often feel guilty and blame themselves for the separation.
Some children ask: “If I behave better will my parents get back together?”
Other children say: ”My daddy doesn’t love me anymore, that’s why he left, my mummy says so.”
What advice do you have for parents regarding the best ways to handle these questions?
The best way to handle these questions is to be honest and answer all their questions according to their maturity and age. Children are very aware of the tension, stress and conflict pre-separation (even if you think they don’t) so, lying to them is not going to help them cope successfully with the separation. You don’t have to give them every single detail of the causes of the separation, especially if one parent has left for another person.
Some parents seek professional help from a family counsellor or psychologist. You can also discuss your situation with your doctor and ask him or her for a referral. If you get a referral you don’t have to pay much for a consultation with a professional.
What do you think is the best way for parents to tell kids that they’re getting divorced?
You know your children better than anyone, so you should choose a time and place that is comfortable and pleasant for them. Then talk to them as a matter of fact and say something like this: “You know that mummy and daddy haven’t been very happy lately, sometimes grown ups are a bit complicated, so we have decided that is better to live apart. You haven’t done anything wrong. Mum and dad still love you very much and we will try to do our best so you can spend enough time with both of us”.
When children ask you if this separation is temporary and if you will be getting back together, it is better to be honest and if the answer is no, then say to them: “I don’t think so”.
Reassure them always that it is not their fault, that they have not done anything wrong or caused the separation and certainly never say that the parent who left doesn’t love them anymore.
© Delcy Lagones de Anglim,2012
Disclaimer: These views are not to be taken as advice, only as a general guide. Should you require specific advice, please contact us or your own psychologist or counsellor.