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How to answer your children's questions

It's often said that children suffer the most in a divorce, but it doesn't have to be this way. Much of how children respond and react to their parents separating depends on how the parents communicate the divorce and how well they are able to coparent with each other. Knowing which questions to expect and how to offer answers can go a long way toward a better adjusted family after the divorce is final.

One of the first things children will have questions about is whether or not they will still get to see both parents and whether the divorce impacts the parents' love for the children. It's important to reassure your children that their status with you doesn't change with the divorce. However, you don't want to invalidate their feelings. They likely will see at least one parent less often, and this will be a big change. Letting them know that it's an adjustment for everyone and it's going to take some time can help.

Next, your children will probably ask why you're getting a divorce. Honesty is the best policy here. If there's no explanation or cause, the children can internalize the blame and begin to think that it's their fault in some way. However, children don't need details about an affair or substance abuse issues. When in doubt, keep it age appropriate and as simple as possible: "We've decided we get along better when we don't live in the same house."

No matter what questions come up during the course of or even after the divorce, it's best if both parents are providing the same answers. It may help to have a discussion with your ex about how you're going to handle these questions and present a united front.

Source: The Good Men Project, "4 Questions Your Kids Will Ask You About Your Divorce," Audrey Cade, July 31, 2016

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