As you go through a divorce, you no doubt have many questions. Your children, too, are likely to be wondering many things. For example, they might want to know who they are going to live with or why the divorce is happening. Read the following tips for insight on how to handle these queries.
Stay concise and positive while being realistic
It is likely that you can't answer many of your children's questions as simply as you would prefer. Still, avoid lengthy replies in favor of succinct explanations. You do not want to confuse your children, and in fact, when you distill an issue to its essence, you may find simple truths. Your child might ask, "Why can't you two stay together?" and an answer such as, "We just don't get along too well anymore," gets to the heart of the matter without the distraction of side issues.
Do not divulge too much information, and try not to paint the other spouse as a bad person. At the same time, don't portray yourself as a bad person either or as some sort of hero. Answers along the lines of, "I did a really bad thing, and everyone hates me now," only serve to frighten or confuse the child.
Use supporting materials
If your child asks something like, "Where will I live?" supporting materials such as color-coded calendars may serve as a valuable supplement to your verbal answer. This is particularly true for intricate custody arrangements and shared custody , and for younger children who benefit from visual and concrete reminders. Likewise, purchasing divorce-related books for children (or borrowing them from the library) may reinforce some of your answers to children's questions.
Present a cohesive front
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to answer children's questions honestly is to talk with your soon-to-be ex-spouse before your children get wind of the divorce. Discuss such issues as the cause of the divorce you will present to the kids, how to do so respectfully and how to explain the various issues so that the children will understand.
Admit when you do not know an answer
It is perfectly fine to say, "I don't know," when that is the case. Follow the statement up with something such as, "I will try to find out because I understand all this is scary."
Divorce is hard on children, and answering their questions as honestly as possible is a healthy approach. Consulting with an attorney may also pave the way for your child to come through the divorce relatively well.