How Do I Talk to My Child about Divorce?
This post is the third in our “How do I talk to my child about?” series. We are covering bad language, disabilities, divorce, adoption, death, race, religion, and personal protection. You won’t want to miss these, so be sure to follow us by email on the sidebar and never miss a post!
It was an issue that I hadn’t even thought about bringing up to my kids.
We were only a few months into the school year when Asante came home, very mopey and on the verge of tears. After being asked a few times over the course of the evening, he finally admitted to the source of his tears- divorce.
Some of his good friends have parents who are divorced, and I guess it came up in conversation amongst the boys. Asante came home with a heavy question weighing on his heart– what if MY mom and dad are getting divorced?
Up until this point, the kids just assumed that mommies and daddies are forever married unless one of them dies (the death phase has come to our kids around age 4…. we’ll be covering that topic further in a few weeks). But now a whole new option opened up in their minds– my mom and dad could get a divorce?!
We immediately sat down the kiddos and talked about the issue. Here are a few basics that we covered:
1. Some moms and dads choose to get divorced.
We talked about how moms and dads get divorced for several reasons. There comes a point when moms and dads sometimes decide they can’t be married anymore. This has happened in their friends’ lives.
2. For us, divorce is not an option.
We will not get divorced. Even if we sometimes argue or disagree or hurt each others’ feelings, we do our best to apologize and give forgiveness to one another. Dad and mom will stay married (but only tell them this if divorce is really not an option for both of you), and you can trust us and have peace about that.
3. God designed marriages to last a lifetime.
God is sad when people get divorced because it breaks a special promise that they made to each other and to God. He knows how hurtful it is to the mom and dad and kids, and it makes Him sad that they are hurting so much. God wants marriages to last a person’s whole life, and we will do our best to keep our promise to God.
4. Come to us with questions.
We hope that they always feel secure in our relationship, but if any point they are scared about mom and dad arguing, they can come talk to us. We want them to know that we want to hear their questions and we are happy to talk about how they are feeling.
This discussion was helpful for the kids. It gave them a brief, developmentally-appropriate introduction to divorce, as well as setting the stage for kids to come back with more nuanced questions or if they just wanted to process through it more. The kids seemed satisfied with the discussion and while the talk of divorce of other parents has came up here and there, they really feel secure in Jake and I’s marriage, which is something I’m very happy about!
For those of you who have had these discussions with young children, what are something things you would add? For those with older children, in what ways do you have a more nuanced discussion?