Adults view divorce as the intricate, nuanced problem that it is. Young children frequently have a tangible and self-centered perspective on things such as divorce. As a result, it’s often hard for parents to talk to their children about divorce.
Here’s an age-by-age guide to help talk to your child about a complex matter:
0 to 5 years of age
During a child’s infancy, babies and toddlers are at their most reliant on their parents or caretakers. They don’t have an understanding of major events or future matters. Toddlers may begin to have a limited understanding of cause-and-effect, but may still have limited ability to communicate or understand complex subjects.
Children from zero to five years of age may not fully understand what divorce means. Babies and toddlers will need basic and concrete explanations about divorce. They’ll likely have to mature some before they understand that divorce is an adult decision.
6 to 11 years of age
As babies and toddlers grow into six to eleven years of age, their understanding of the world around them begins to grow. They’ll still be dependent on their parents but will think and feel for themselves. They’ll also have a broader, but still limited ability to communicate and understand complex matters.
Parents may need to begin more complicated discussions with their children around these ages. Asking your children questions or allowing your children to ask questions can help them process any changes.
Teens to young adult
When a child starts their teen years, they’re going to experience a lot of emotions – often related to how their body changes and hormones. Teens and young adults will have a broad understanding of matters, such as divorce. But, they’re also trying to understand themselves as much as they’re trying to understand adults.
It may be harder to talk to a teen and young adult about divorce. Given time, you may be able to express your decision in a way that your child will understand.
Understanding your legal rights
It often helps parents to understand their legal rights and develop a child custody plan before talking to their children about divorce. Knowing what’s going to happen after the divorce could help prepare your child for the changes to come.