How should we expect our kids to respond when we tell them we are getting divorced?
Each child will respond in their own way to the information that their parents are getting divorced. Much depends on the child’s age and level of understanding. Children often experience mixed feelings about their parents’ separation or divorce. They may fluctuate between feeling many different emotions. Children, even those in the same family, of the same gender, who often act similarly, and who are close in age, will both experience and share different behaviors and emotions with different people in their life.
Insight Into How Your Child May Respond
You can glean insight into how your child will respond to the news that you and their other parent are getting divorced by reflecting upon how that child has adapted in the past when faced with new situations and change. Utilizing what you know about the child’s comfort level with new situations and change can help you to share the information about the divorce in a way you believe they are most likely to absorb the information. It is important to continue to observe your child after the news has broken about divorce to learn about how your child is actually experiencing the changes divorce or separation are bringing their way.
What is a normal response by children to knowledge about their parents’ divorcing?
Common forms of behavior and response to the changes that arise during parents’ divorce or separation:
Intensified anger, fear, or other feelings or behavior.
Becoming overly well-behaved.
Lashing out at the people around them.
Withdrawing inward and becoming less communicative and more quiet.
Regressing to behavior they had exhibited tat a younger age.
Feeling a loss of control over their lives.
Feeling as if their world is completely turned upside down.
Common Questions Children Have
Where will their parents live?
Will either parent move out of town?
Whom will they live with?
Will they have to move out of town?
Will brothers and sisters get separated?
Where will the family pets live?
Will they have to move away from their friends?
Will they have to change schools?
Will both parents be okay?
Will they be poor now?
Will Mom or Dad quit crying?
Will anything ever seem normal again?
Will they be outcasts at school?
You may not know the answers to all of these questions yourself at first. Begin working on a highly detailed shared parenting plan as soon as possible to increase children’s feelings of stability.
Based Upon an Excerpt From: Christina Pesoli. “Break Free from the Divortex.” iBooks.