Any North Carolina parent knows about the question phase kids go through. Nearly every other word out of a young child’s mouth is “Why?” You may not always have the answer, but you do your best to help your children understand the world around them.
However, hearing that question after you tell your children about the divorce can leave you scrambling for an appropriate response. Here are some helpful tips to prepare and craft your responses to your children’s questions.
Responding to “Why?”
As we have addressed in previous blog posts, your children do not need to know the exact details of what led your marriage to break down. So, how do you answer this question? You should:
- Not write off a child’s questions
- Keep explanations succinct, but empathetic
- Make sure they are age-appropriate
For example, it is completely reasonable to explain to a younger child that, “Mom and Dad do not get along very well anymore. But we still love you, no matter what.” The answer does not have to be in-depth or elaborate.
Prepare yourself for a longer list of questions
The questions likely will not stop at “Why?” Depending on their age, your children may also ask many questions about what their future will look like. These often come later, but it is worth preparing your strategies to answer them now.
Reassure them to answer those unspoken questions
Children react in a wide range of ways when they learn about their parents’ divorce. Regardless, no matter their age you should reassure your children:
- That both parents love them – and always will
- That the divorce has nothing to do with the kids
Kids of all ages frequently internalize events that happen around them. Therefore, it is not uncommon for children to feel guilty about their parents divorcing. They think it somehow must be their fault.
These worries and questions are common, but they often go unspoken. Reassuring your children can be a proactive way to not only answer these unspoken questions but also support them during this challenging time.