How to Explain Divorce to Your Child

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Divorce can be a complicated situation for all involved. While you and your spouse will have a lot to discuss during the process, like how you will divide your assets and split coverage for divorced parents’ child car insurance, there are still many other aspects of divorce to work through.

Children often struggle to understand the divorce process. While your primary concerns may be working through the fine details with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, your child is trying to understand what is happening and why.

Children also struggle to come to terms with the divorce of their parents. If they are young, it may be difficult for them to grasp why their parents are separating. They may feel a wide variety of emotions, from anger to confusion.

Because it can be a more challenging situation for children to process, it’s essential as a parent to explain divorce to your kids. The conversation may be difficult, but leaving children in the dark only hurts them more in the long run.

Plan Your Explanation Beforehand

Even if you and your spouse are not on the best terms, it’s essential to discuss what you’ll say to your child before talking to them. Conversations fueled by so much emotion can take a turn quickly, and you want to make sure feelings aren’t running the show.

A calm explanation can quickly turn into a heated argument if you don’t prepare what you’ll say ahead of time. You don’t want to subject your child to more confusion or hurt by fighting with their other parent in front of them.

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Instead, try to come together with your partner and determine how you will explain what is happening to your child. You can decide together what details you feel they should know and if there are more complex scenarios that should be left out of the conversation.

By preparing what you’ll say, you can ensure the conversation goes smoothly. This can help make the process easier for your child.

Explain Events That Led to Divorce

You and your spouse may have had years to come to terms with your divorce. Your children, however, may see it as entirely new information. While you and your partner might have discussed at length all the reasons divorce was the best option, it’s likely your kids were left out of those conversations.

An excellent place to start when explaining divorce to your children is to tell them how you and their other parent reached this point. If the details are messy, you don’t have to dive too deep. You don’t want to create a hateful situation for your child. Simply give them the shortened version that can help them grasp why the divorce is happening.

Giving your kids a level of understanding, rather than making them feel like this divorce came out of left field, will help them process the situation and come to terms easier than simply leaving them out.

Help Your Child Work Through Their Feelings

Children, especially those in pre-school to elementary school, will struggle with blaming themselves for their parents’ divorce. It’s crucial to be sure your child is aware they played no part in the process.

Talking through your child’s feelings and repeatedly explaining that they have no blame for the divorce can help them work through their emotions. Some children may act out during and after the divorce process because they don’t have a way to work through their feelings.

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Older children, such as preteens and teens, may also blame themselves for the divorce. Even though they can better understand the situation, they may still have underlying feelings of self-blame.

Children in their teens or preteens may feel angry or abandoned towards one of their parents, and they may withdraw or act in uncharacteristic ways. Ensuring children of this age feel like they can openly communicate with both parents can help them work through their feelings.

No matter your child’s age, divorce impacts both kids and families, and can bring on many emotions. Allowing them to speak openly to you and your partner can help them deal with their feelings rather than acting out with no outlet.

Explain What Will Happen Next

For a child, the idea of now having their parents separated can be scary. They may not understand what will happen to them now that their family isn’t together under the same roof.

Explaining what the new situation will be can help ease kids into a new routine. If you and your partner have already determined custody agreements, present them to your child. Help them understand how their time will be split between two different households and still regularly see both parents.

Children will benefit from knowing holidays, birthdays, and regular days in between will still involve both parents. Even little things you may not think twice about could worry your child, so they need to understand they will continue to be cared for and loved by both parents moving forward.

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When children know they will not technically lose one of their parents, it can help make the transition easier. Understanding that they will still have time to spend with both parents, only separately now, may not be ideal for them, but it can help them feel less worried.

As your child grows, you can also talk about other things that might have been affected by insurance, such as who is liable if your child gets into an accident when learning to drive and how divorce affects your life insurance policy.

Explaining Divorce so Your Child Understands

You may think that because your child is not involved in the messier aspects of your divorce, they won’t be affected by it. However, children are often highly aware of their surroundings. They will notice a shift in your relationship and will feel confused when their family dynamic changes.

Talking through a divorce with your child can seem daunting and complicated. It may be a topic you would rather avoid, but you will only hurt your child more if you don’t discuss the process with them.

Preparing what you will say, explaining the events leading up to your divorce, providing emotional support, and getting them ready for the new future can help your child work through your divorce and have a better understanding. It may not be instantaneous, but it will help the process go smoother in the long run.

It’s easy to assume children don’t need an explanation. But that is simply not the case. It’s crucial to let your child know what is going on and help them through the divorce.