Sometimes the reasons for a couple's divorce are so complex that even the wife and husband have trouble figuring out exactly what went wrong in their marriage. Imagine, then, how confounding it must be for a young child to try to understand why Mom and Dad argue so often, or why one parent doesn't live at home anymore. Explaining this painful situation to a youngster in an age-appropriate way and responding to his or her innocent yet probing questions isn't easy. Nevertheless, it can be done with sensitivity to your child's feelings, some careful thought beforehand and the benefit of a little expert guidance.
What should you tell your child about your divorce and how?
It's important to gauge just how much detail to go into when talking to your child about your divorce. How to phrase what you say to provide the greatest clarity about the situation while causing the least emotional distress can be challenging. It's key to give the child “the essential information without overwhelming” him or her, depending upon the child's age and maturity level.
- Particularly for very young children such as preschoolers, be attentive and reassuring while communicating that Mom and Dad's divorce is not their fault or responsibility in any way.
- Be aware that you may need to talk to a young child more than once to respond to multiple questions and concerns. Keep your replies simple.
- School-age kids may think they can do something to get their parents to reunite. Gently say that the decision to end the marriage was made by adults and that your youngster can't reverse it.
- Teens and pre-teens may act nonchalant or angry or seemingly reject your attempts to discuss the divorce. Continue to have a dialogue with your child because most kids still want and need that connection, particularly during their parents' divorce.
An experienced attorney in Florida can be a good source of information about divorce-related topics pertaining to children.
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