Getting a divorce isn’t always easy on a parent, but when their children start asking why the divorce is happening, things get trickier. Depending on how old your child is, you may not be sure how to address their questions or how much information to give them.
The good news is that there are guides about how to talk to your kids about divorce. Here are some tips based on age.
Children from 0 to 5
If you have a child between the ages of 0 and 5, how much you say will depend on what they can comprehend. Babies and toddlers won’t likely understand complex events. Preschoolers may not understand cause and effect well.
At this age, simply reminding your child that mom or dad lives elsewhere and giving information on what will happen to them is important.
Children from 6 to 11
For children between the ages of six and 11, it’s a good idea to address your divorce more directly. They may have a better ability to understand feelings. Unfortunately, this is also an age where kids tend to blame others based on “black and white” circumstances.
Be clear with your child about what’s happening and how their life will change because of the divorce. Take time to clear up misunderstandings, and do your best not to place blame.
Preteens, those between 11 and 12, tend to have questions and strong opinions. Children at this age may want to be more independent than they are. At this stage, you can have a real conversation about the divorce, but remember that your preteen may be stressed or anxious. Address those feelings first.
Of all ages, teens are the ones who will understand divorces the best. They may know people who have divorced before or be friends with people who have divorced parents. Depending on your teen’s maturity level, you may plainly explain the reason for the divorce. Reassure them that you’ll be there for them, and follow through on your promises.
These are a few tips to help with your child’s understanding of your divorce. In the end, you will get through this and be able to move on, even if your family dynamic changes.