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Answering your child's tough questions about divorce

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you may be concerned about how your divorce will impact any number of issues and relationships in your life. If you have children, you are likely most concerned about how your divorce will impact them. This is an understandable concern. Thankfully, numerous studies indicate that most children emerge from the aftermath of divorce unscathed by any lasting harm.

However comforting the conclusions of these studies may be, they likely do not do much for your peace of mind when your child is asking you difficult questions like, “Do you and Mommy/Daddy still love each other?”

There is no one “right” way to answer these kinds of tough questions. You alone can best evaluate how your child needs to be answered in accordance with his or her age, maturity, sensitivities and other factors. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that no matter how old children and teens are, their tough questions about divorce must generally be answered with compassion and with their fundamental identities in mind.

For better and for worse, children and teens tie at least some of their core identities to each of their parents. Whether their relationships with their parents are positive, negative or a mix of both, children and teens are always linked in some significant sense to each of their parents. As a result, it is critical that you answer tough questions without unnecessarily bad-mouthing their child’s other parent or undermining that parent’s affection for your child or teen. Failure to keep this important note in mind could cause kids and teens alike to unintentionally assume that because you view their other parent negatively that one or both of their parents now view them negatively. And that is the kind of conclusion that can indeed cause lasting damage.

Source: The Huffington Post, “14 Questions My Son Asked About My Divorce And What I Answered,” DivorcedMoms.com, Feb. 17, 2015

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