Explaining Divorce to Young Children  

There is no doubt that children often suffer immensely during divorce. Your kids are probably used to living with both you and their other parent and will struggle to understand and adapt to this major lifestyle change. How can I possibly explain this to my kids and help build their resilience?

Your children might believe that the divorce is their fault or that there is something that they can do to prevent the split. The importance of taking the time to explain what is happening and how this situation will affect their future can’t be stressed enough. In over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our exceptional legal team has learned that by handling this explanation with care and compassion, you and your child’s other parent can help minimize the disruptive impact of a divorce on your child—and better support them moving forward.

Young Children Probably Won’t Understand Why a Divorce is Happening

Divorces are always emotional and complex matters. Of course, the case will take on a legal significance that children will not be able to understand. Additionally, they may struggle to comprehend how this is possible, especially if having both of their parents under the same roof is all that they have ever known.

Exactly what you should tell your child about the divorce depends on their level of maturity. At the very least, parents should make it clear that the child is loved and that the divorce is not their fault. Older children may be able to understand more complicated ideas and better comprehend how permanent this change likely is. However, children of any age should be reassured that they will still spend time with both of their parents and remain with any siblings they have.

Do Your Best to Provide a Stable Future

Divorce can hit younger children especially hard. Generally, kids from the ages of three to ten understand that a major change has occurred, but they might still lack the ability to fully comprehend why this has happened. Family courts in Massachusetts have a duty to impose child custody and visitation schedules that are in the best interest of your kid. In most cases, this will result in joint parenting plans that allow both parents to raise the child.

It is essential to make sure that they know that both you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse still love them and that they will still have time with both parents. The family courts usually try to keep the child’s life as stable as possible by keeping them in the family home, the same school, and with the same general standard of living. We know how difficult it is to speak with your child in the face of such uncertainty and assure them that things will be alright during and after a divorce. However, treating the situation with honesty, compassion, and support toward your kids could make all the difference for them.

Explaining Divorce to a Young Child is Necessary But Never Easy

You are likely already facing the overwhelming personal challenges of a divorce, but seeing your children affected and hurt can be an even heavier burden to bear. Your child may be blaming themselves for the divorce, or they may be worried about their future with you and your ex-spouse. Because of this, it is essential to have a candid yet supportive conversation with your child about how things will change after a divorce, all while focusing on constants, like the love and care they will still receive.

Divorce can be traumatic for children. It can be something they carry with them for the rest of their lives. However, if you make sure to emphasize the important factors, perhaps they’ll remember the love and support their parents gave them during this hard time, instead of the pain of separation.

Our legal team is here to support you and holistically prepare you for your family’s future. Let our attorneys O’Connor Family Law apply our firsthand experience to help you navigate this tumultuous time as best as possible. Call today to get started.

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