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Dealing with your children's questions about your divorce

For parents who decide to divorce, one of the most difficult things they have to deal with his answering their children's questions. Most of these questions are actually fairly easy to predict. Therefore, it's important for you and your spouse to have answers ready. It's always best if you and your spouse can talk to your children about this together, or at least have consistent responses to their questions.

Children's natural response to change is wondering how it's going to affect them. It's important to reassure them that the divorce will not impact how you feel about them and that you'll be there for them whenever they need you. Of course, it's also essential to reassure them that the break-up has nothing to do with them and isn't the result of anything they did wrong.

Kids also want to know how this will affect their lives. If you and your children are going to be moving, help them see it as a new adventure that they can be involved in. This may include looking at apartments together or something as simple (and important) as deciding how to decorate their new room. Having to go to a new school or daycare center can be just as difficult for a child as moving to a new home. Again, help them see it as an adventure that you'll be embarking on together.

Of course, the key question in most kids' minds is why you and your spouse won't be together any more. If the kids are older, they've probably sensed problems. However, for younger kids, this may be coming out of the blue. It's generally best to keep your answer simple, such as saying that you and the child's mother or father just can't be happy together and you want the family to be happy.

Kids often hold out hope that their parents will get back together. That's why it's essential to put that hope to rest once you've decided to divorce, while assuring them that you'll still both be there for them.

If you and your spouse are able to end your marriage via mediation, this can help lessen the strain on your children. A minimum of conflict can help provide children with much-needed comfort and stability during a difficult transitional period.

Source: Huffington Post, "10 Questions Kids Have About Divorce... and How to Answer Them," Michela Montgomery, April 20, 2016

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