Children are naturally curious and inherently creative. They can create an adventure when all you really need to do is run a brief errand at the grocery store. They can find dozens of strange and difficult-to-answer questions about even simple issues, like family traditions or social rules. When it comes to big changes that will affect their lives, children often have very intense curiosity.
If you sit your children down and explain to them that you and your spouse are about to divorce, you can anticipate that your children will likely have a lot of questions about that announcement. What questions are among the most common?
Why do you want to divorce?
The reason you want to divorce may be very personal. It may have to do with something one parent did to the other, such as infidelity. Although those issues are important to the parents, they are not matters that the children need to know about during a divorce.
Choosing a generic but honest answer that does not go into detail about parental misconduct is the best option. Explaining that you grew apart, develop different values or no longer make one another happy can give the children an answer that is appropriate and still honest.
Am I the reason you want to divorce?
Some children will outright ask if they cause the divorce, while others will just worry silently. Parents should head off this question early in the family discussion by letting the children know that the choice has only to do with the parents and their relationship with each other and nothing to do with the children’s behavior or how much either parent loves them.
Where will we live?
Parents don’t always agree in the early stages of divorce about what will happen regarding custody and living arrangements. Ideally, the two of you will have some basic rules in place before you talk to your children. Giving them an idea of the custody breakdown will help them feel comfortable about their relationship with you after the divorce.
Can’t you just work it out?
Unless your children have witnessed the conflict between you and your spouse, they may have a hard time understanding why you decided you want to divorce. They may believe that the two of you will reconcile, such occurrences are very common in movies.
In the real world, however, solving marital discord isn’t that simple. Being prepared for your children to inquire about your seriousness and to push back against it can help the two of you steal your resolve before this difficult conversation. If you present a united front and prepare ahead of time, you can make the transition process early in the divorce much less stressful for your children.
Working together will benefit you at every stage during your upcoming divorce and later as parents who share custody.