Helping your child handle questions about your divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2023 | Divorce |

Determining how much – if anything – to tell friends, colleagues, neighbors and others about your separation and divorce can be a challenge. Remember that your child has to do the same thing. If your break-up or events related to it occur over the summer, your child may be dreading how to talk to their classmates, teachers, coaches and others about it when they go back to school. 

Even though your child likely knows other kids whose parents are divorced, they may nonetheless feel awkward or even embarrassed about it. It’s crucial to remind your child that this doesn’t make them “different” and that it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all kids’ reactions will be kind. Younger children often reflect their parents’ beliefs and simply parrot what they’ve heard them say. Many adults can be less than supportive or downright nosy. 

It’s important to give your child some tools to deal with negative reactions and teasing if they experience that. Be sure they feel comfortable talking to you about any questions or reactions they encounter that bother them. Remind them that every divorce is different and that you and their mom or dad remain committed to being their parents.

Discuss boundaries

Young children may not know what’s appropriate to tell people and what isn’t. Depending on your child’s age and maturity, you may need to remind them what kinds of things are and aren’t appropriate to discuss with anyone outside the family.

It can help to role play a bit with your child so that they’re prepared to respond to questions or comments. This can help them have a standard line or two to use when people ask about their parents. 

Let them know it’s perfectly fine to politely tell people – including teachers, daycare employees, coaches and other adults – that they don’t feel comfortable discussing their parents’ divorce. If someone is asking intrusive questions or saying negative things to your child, they should let you know so that you can deal with it if necessary.

By working to have an amicable divorce where you and your co-parent can be satisfied with the outcome, you can better focus your time and energy on helping your child (or children) avoid the drama and chaos that too many kids still experience. This should also help them better deal with outside reactions.