To your child, divorce looks like serious adult business. As parents, you might even tell them that when they ask a question. “Never mind, son, this is grown-up stuff between your mom and me.” Lawyers, accountants, courts and financial advisors are not something most children want to deal with, nor should they have to. That does not mean that you should keep your child in the dark about your divorce.
Kids are born curious, and they ask questions to help make sense of the world. Your decision to divorce may confuse your kids. Things they took to be true, such as “I live with mommy and daddy and will do so until I am big,” may suddenly become untrue.
You need to see divorce from your child’s point of view
Child psychologists often recommend that adults crouch down or sit on the floor to get on a child’s level. Yet to see divorce from your child’s point of view, you need to do more than that. Take time to talk to your son or daughter. Let them ask you questions and tell you their thoughts. Hang out with your child for the day. Do the things they do and imagine how your divorce may impact your routine. Here are a few examples that might not occur if you are too busy dealing with the serious stuff a divorce entails:
- Playing with friends: Your child gets home from school and runs straight to knock on their friend’s door. Will they still be able to do that if you move? They can make new friends, but losing their best friend may cause them sadness.
- Dance classes or soccer practice: It’s Saturday morning, and your child wakes up early to go to their weekly dance class or soccer practice. Will that still be possible if the plan is for your spouse to take the kids each Friday night?
Making time to see the world from your child’s point of view is essential to achieving custody arrangements that work for you and your children. Otherwise, you may overlook things that seem minor to you but are a big deal to your child.