5 Common Questions Children have related to divorce 

Divorce can be a very confusing process. There are many adjustments requiring adaptations while also helping your children understand the new family system. After sharing the narrative with your children, you may think, “Phew, that is over!” Unfortunately, the divorce narrative does not end with a one time conversation. It is an ongoing conversation with answering questions or bringing up new changes that will be occurring in the future.

As parents you may wonder, well I told them the narrative what else would be helpful to do? Children typically have lots of questions that if left unanswered, can lead to false narratives about the divorce.

Fortunately, you can prepare yourselves to answer the tough questions that children will ask or are thinking about.

I’ve worked with 100s of children that have experienced divorce in their home. I have seen the benefits of parents responding clearly and honestly to the questions that they have. It can be an important step to ensure trust within the parent-child relationship.

Here are 5 questions that children may have regarding the divorce.

#1: Why are my parents getting divorced?

This is a big question, and a very complicated one. A child may have this question because they want to know why their parents do not like each other or agree anymore. The interesting research on child grief shows that if children do not get the answers, they will make up their own answers. Which is why it is important to be clear, concise, and strategic on your responses to protect the integrity of both parent relationships.

#2: Did I do something wrong?

This question is extremely common. When a loss occurs, magical thinking tends to take over. This is a defense mechanism or thought blip that occurs when children want to control – I mean what human doesnt want control? 🙂 Children can blame themselves because they want to be able to control it in some way. Which is another reason to be clear and straightforward that children are not the reason for their parent’s divorce.

#3: What is going to happen on holidays?

Holidays are a big opportunity for loss to creep in because holidays are often surrounded by family rituals and special routines. Missing the presence of a parent at a family function or having to do special activities “ twice” is not usually a comment that soothes children. Holidays are very magical and a very big part of children’s culture, so it is important to inform children of the holiday plans when the date approaches to help reduce the child’s stress.

#4: Where will I live?

Transitions from home to home can be overwhelming. Informing children of the parenting routine is extremely important in helping establish a sense of security.

Showing children with a virtual/physical calendar or tracking system can help them know who is taking care of them. It is a great way to help children create a sense of “felt safety” and reduce the unknown of which home they are going to.

#5 Will my parents get back together?

Even when parents explain the narrative clearly and answer all the questions in neutral ways, children often still hope that someday their parents will get back together.

When children hint at this, or suggest that the parents spend more time together, it is important to honor that the child wants the parents to be together again. After providing empathy and understanding to the child’s feelings, you can remind them of the original narrative you told them so that the language remains consistent.

There are so many questions that children may have. It is appropriate to give yourself a pause and inform your child that you simply do not know the answer if you sincerely do not know. You can reassure them that you will inform them once you have a clear answer.

Divorce can be challenging to navigate, if you need more support on ways to answer your children’s tough questions, contact us. The therapists at Power Within Counseling have extensive experience supporting children and families navigating divorce. We offer family therapy, child therapy, divorce therapy, and more in Provo and Tooele Utah and virtual counseling sessions across Utah.

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