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What is going through your children’s heads when they conclude that their parents are splitting up? If the child has come to a conclusion on their own, that’s not something you’ll know unless they ask about it. It would be best to address the situation with your child as soon as you can. Make sure to tailor the conversation to their age, maturity level and temperament. And just like you, when this bombshell news hits them, they have questions.

Some children won’t be ready to ask their questions right away, while others will want to instantly play 20 questions. Some children will object and try to convince you otherwise, while others may be more accepting of the news and take it in stride.

Common questions that your child might ask include:

  • Where will I live?
  • Who will I live with?
  • Will I keep going to the same school?
  • Are we going to move?
  • Where will mom/dad live? (depending on which parent leaves home and property division agreements)
  • Where will holidays be spent?
  • Will I still be able to see my friends?
  • Can I still go to summer camp?
  • What will happen to the dog/cat?

And these are just some of the questions you might encounter. Be prepared.

Handling emotions

No matter their reaction, your children will be dealing with some complex emotions, and just as you are, will be searching for answers. They may think that they are the reason for their parent’s separation. Aim to strike down this idea immediately before their imaginations run wild. If they double-down and ask why, it’s important not to demonize your future-ex spouse. While their actions may have led to the divorce, please don’t put the children in the middle of it, as doing so will only lead to resentment and the child choosing sides. 

While some adversity is bound to arrive as your children work through their emotions, there are actions you can take as a parent to help your children cope, like:

  • Keeping your children secluded from arguments and divorce talk
  • Ensuring sure your child’s schedule remains stable
  • Not talking bad about your child’s other parent in front of them
  • Making sure both parents remain actively involved in the children’s lives

Children and stability are like two peas in a pod, and alienation will further complicate the matter.