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Telling the kids about divorce? Consider their point of view

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Divorce |

When you inform your children about the decision to divorce, you should expect them to ask many questions. It will be critical to prepare yourself to answer these questions with compassion and care. One way to do so is to take time to understand your child’s perspective and thought processes.

First, know the psychology

A very normal stage of psychological development that children go through is often referred to as egocentric thinking or self-centered thinking. This does not mean children are being selfish.

Simply put, younger children in this stage often find it difficult to consider a situation from someone else’s perspective other than their own. After all, they are still discovering their own place in the world. Understanding someone else’s point of view can be a challenge in this case. Of course, it is different for every child, but this is common in elementary school-age children.

Why should you know about this stage? Generally, this type of thinking as well as the fear of the unknown is often what lies behind most of children’s questions about divorce.

What kind of questions should you expect?

Even if children are growing out of the stage of self-centered thinking, many of their questions may still revolve around them, and how the divorce will affect their life. For example, children might ask:

  • Why are you divorcing? This is almost always the first question children have, regardless of age. They want to understand. Younger kids in the self-centered thinking stage may also worry they did something to cause the divorce.
  • Who will I live with? This question often stems from the fear of the unknown. They may not be able to articulate their anxieties, but children might worry about their routines and the stability they rely on. You may not know the details of a North Carolina child custody arrangement yet either, but you can ease their worries at this point.
  • Will I still get to see both of you? Again, this question is rooted in the fear of the unknown. If the marriage is ending, they may worry as much as you that they will lose time with each parent.
  • Will I still see my friends? Relationships with friends and even extended family play a very important role in a child’s life. This question, as well as worries about how their life will change, often dominate a child’s mind during this time.

Reassurance is often key when answering any of these questions. Reassuring your child that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents will always love them no matter what, can help to ease the worries weighing on their minds.