Top Questions Kids Ask Divorcing Parents

Be prepared to answer these questions from your kids

Mother having discussion with son
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Divorcing parents can expect their children to have many questions. As you prepare to tell your children about your divorce, consider their personality styles and whether they are likely to ask questions directly, or whether you will need to anticipate the types of questions they will have. Some children may be more reserved and will need you to lead them into the conversation with a lot of these questions answered for them.

Being able to share concrete details will be key in easing your children's anxieties about what is happening and how to emotionally deal with the situation.

If both parents can come together to answer these questions with their children, it can show the children that the parents are united at least when it comes to matters involving children. Hearing the same answers coming from both parents can be comforting for most children.

Top Questions

Many of your children's initial questions will be focused on how the divorce will affect them. Particularly, children want to know about the change that they will be physically experiencing, such as home, school, siblings, and their treasured possessions.

Depending on the age of the child, he or she may want to know "why" and some might even blame themselves for your breakup. Come pre-armed with these answers, and reassure your children as best you can. 

Home Changes

Perhaps the top question that children have is, "Where am I going to live?" Moving to a new home is difficult for kids at any age, in any situation, most of all, divorce. Not only will the child lose the attachment to the home that they probably have spent most of their life, but the change of relocating a parent can be stressful.

Families that experience a move on top of a divorce will have a significant life change for everyone involved.

Other top questions may include where each parent will live, where siblings will reside, or if a move is imminent or coming in the future.

A child may want to know if they will have two homes with two separate bedrooms. And, you can expect a child will want to know if they will get to keep their treasured belongings and where those items will go.

Social Changes

Another top question for children is if they will have to change schools. For most children, routines provide stability. Even before a divorce, if there was discord in the home, your child may have been using the routine of school as a safety net. When a child has to move and change schools, you can anticipate this upheaval can be difficult for your child on several levels.

Firstly, a child will need time to mentally prepare for the decision to change of schools. As soon as you are aware that your child will need to switch schools, involve your child in the discussion. Help the child understand the situation.

Secondly, a child will want to know how to tell their friends, what to say to their friends, and if they will still get to see their friends regularly.

Address these questions proactively. A children's friends are part of their support system during this time.

Also, how will the rest of the extended family be told about the divorce, like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and how is the family expected to react to the news. 

Lastly, if the child does have to change schools. Strongly support your child in making new friends. Your child will need to form new bonds. Friends can help your child regain a sense of stability and control in his or her life.

Emotional Changes

A child will likely react emotionally to a divorce. Children often live in a world of blended reality and fantasy. Younger children may think that their behavior may have been the cause of parents to raise their voice, get mad, and then lead to discord in the home. It is not uncommon for children of all ages to blame themselves.

It is important to reassure your children that the child is not at fault and that you are not mad at them.

Question Checklist

If possible, both parents should come together to answer these commonly asked questions, in a unified way, to help children understand the changes that divorce may bring.

  • Where is your child going to live?
  • Where's mom going to live?
  • Where's dad going to live?
  • Where are siblings going live?
  • Will your child have to move?
  • Will your child have to change schools?
  • Will your child get to stay close to his or her friends?
  • Will your child have two houses and two bedrooms?
  • Where will your child's stuff go?
  • What can or should your child tell his or her friends?
  • Will everyone know about the divorce? 
  • What does the extended family know about the divorce?
  • Is the divorce the child's fault?
  • Are you mad at the child?
  • Will you remain close with your child?
  • Do you still love the child?