My sweet girls have suddenly developed a fear of divorce. Sadly, two friends, who incidentally also live on either side of us, have parents who just went through a divorce and are selling their homes.
It’s been confusing for them. They don’t understand what divorce means. We’ve explained it the best way we can for their ages (8 and 4). Simply the mommy and daddy aren’t married anymore and will live in different places. This idea is terrifying to them.
Just today, my youngest blurted out on the way home from church, “I DON’T WANT TO MOVE AND LIVE IN A SMALLER HOUSE!” Completely out of the blue. When I asked why that would happen she said: “because you might get a deevorce.” It breaks my heart how much they are thinking about divorce these days. They are always so happy when we assure them it won’t happen to us. The satisfied smiles on their faces are both sweet and sad. It hurts my heart to think of anything threatening their stability.
This is by no means a post to shame anyone who has gone through a divorce. I understand the decision to end a marriage is a very painful and personal decision especially when children are involved.
How We’re Helping Our Kids Talk About Their Fear of Divorce
We talk about empathy and friendship. We tell them their friends are probably sad their mommy and daddy won’t be living together anymore and need us to be understanding. Maybe their friend is acting a little differently or has a shorter attention span or wants to go home suddenly for seemingly no reason. We’re still going to be their friend after they move and will make efforts to schedule play dates and times to meet up after they move away.
We give them reassurance our family is not going anywhere. We tell them they have no reason to be afraid because mommy and daddy will stay together forever. (However, if this isn’t your family’s truth, don’t lie. Be as honest as you possibly can that’s age appropriate.)
We explain not all families get a divorce and even though it seems like it’s happening a lot, it’s nothing to be afraid. We remind them of all their other friends who have two married parents. We talk about people like grandma and grandpa who have been married a long, long time!
I expect these conversations will go on until they move away and the effects of their friends being gone really hits home. It’s my hope the more they continue to hear the reassuring words, seeing our loving marriage and begin to focus on the less scary parts of divorce will help them ease into understanding.