Children are naturally curious and may want to know why you and your spouse got divorced. Explaining divorce to your children can be difficult, and you will need to balance being honest with making sure your answers are age appropriate.
As you craft your answer, remember that your children need love and reassurance more than anything else. Remind your children that both their parents love them and that the divorce was not their fault.
Don’t Be Too Specific
If your children ask why you got divorced, tell them the truth without being overly specific. You might say, “Mommy and Daddy were fighting too much,” but you don’t need to tell them what you were fighting about. Emphasize that divorce is an adult decision that came from adult problems that have nothing to do with them.
Older children may need more explanation but spare them the details. If your marriage ended due to infidelity, for example, explain that the relationship ended due to a breakdown of trust.
Don’t Blame or Criticize the Other Parent
Each parent is a building block to your child’s identity and criticizing your child’s other parent can be more harmful than criticizing your child directly. If you wouldn’t criticize your child, don’t criticize 50% of their DNA.
Always speak about your co-parent with love, dignity, and respect. Let your children know you will always love your former spouse for being their mother or father and that the divorce will let you love each other from further away and be better parents to them.
Even if you feel your spouse caused the end of your marriage, do not express anger or blame them in front of your children. Emphasize that both you and your spouse love your children and want to do what’s best for them and each other.
Your children may ask the same questions over and over. Give them the same answer every time and emphasize that you are always open to more questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask your children questions, as well. If one child keeps asking “why,” for example, you can gently ask them what they are worried about and what they are trying to understand.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say ‘I Don’t Know’
During and after a divorce, your children may ask some difficult questions. If you do not know the answer, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
For example, if you are in the middle of creating a custody agreement, and your child asks where they will spend Christmas, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but your mother/father and I are figuring it out together. We’ll let you know as soon as possible.”
You can also ask questions about what your child likes to do for Christmas to better inform the custody agreement you’re working on.
Ultimately, children are smarter than we give them credit for, and you, your spouse, and the family law courts will always act in their best interests.
If you need help developing a custody and visitation plan that puts your children first, look no further than Burch Shepard Family Law Group. We have more than 100 years of combined experience and certified specialists to help you find the solution that works for you and your family.
Tell us about your situation during a case review and find out what our team can do for you – call us at (949) 565-4158 or contact us online to schedule yours today.