On behalf of Joseph R. Schmitz of Schmitz Law, P.C. posted Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
When kids go through divorce, they sometimes have a hard time adjusting to the changes that they’re going through. At different ages, children understand divorce differently, which is something that can help you if you want to support them through it.
Talking about what children can and cannot understand or cope with at different ages is essential for parents going through divorce. For example, an infant probably needs to be with mom often for the purposes of breastfeeding and comfort, but they also won’t understand what’s going on. There would likely be no reason to explain to a young infant.
On the other hand, a toddler can understand that the world around them is changing, even though they may not understand why. Parents who have toddlers may want to sit down with them and discuss why things are changing and how. For instance, you could tell your toddler that mom and dad will live in two houses and that they’ll get to go to both places. It may take time and reminders to have them understand a custody schedule or why both parents aren’t together.
As your child gets older, you will notice that they ask more questions and want to be more independent. For instance, a tween, kids between around 10 and 12, may want to know why their parents are getting divorced or feel ashamed because they believe that something they did caused the situation. Parents with tweens need to talk to them about divorce, reassure them that they’re loved and help guide them through the changes.
Talking about what children can and cannot understand or cope with at different ages is essential for parents going through divorce.
Teens are a whole different situation. Teens, depending on their age, may be significantly independent. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need support from their parents. Though they may understand divorce and the reasons that their parents are divorcing, they still need to have some sense of security. They should still have a custody schedule, even if it’s flexible, and still be talked to about the divorce and the effect it’s having on them.
It should go without saying that children of all ages still need their parents and will want some guidance as they learn to cope with the divorce. As parents, it’s your responsibility to be there to help your children learn to express their feelings and to adjust to their new custody schedules and routines. Working together to do this will help your children adjust better than if you leave it to chance.