Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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How should I answer my children’s questions?

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Your children will want to know what the separation or divorce means to the family and, most importantly, who will take care of them. Listen carefully to your children, take their questions seriously. Answer their questions as honestly and openly as you can.

 Expect them to ask questions like:

  • Do we have to move?
  • Who will I live with?
  • Will I have to change schools?
  • Where will I go for the holidays?
  • How often will I see my parents?

Younger children want to hear how their needs will be met. Tell them that they will still go to school and have someone to help them with homework and cook dinner for them. Even though this age group may not ask many questions at first, they will still have lots of worries and fears.  Read Why? and Feelings in the Kids’ Guide to get ready for what your younger children might ask you.

Teenagers have more life experience and probably know more about how the changes will impact them. They still need the same reassurances as younger children. You may also need to encourage them to express their fears. You can learn more about what your teenage children might be going through in the Teen Guide’s Frequently Asked Questions section.

Allow your children to express their feelings. Emotions like sadness, anger, confusion, and guilt, are normal. See the Feelings and Emotions section of this Guide for advice on how to help your child work through their feelings.

Be patient with your children. It may take them some time to work through the information.  It might look like your children understand what you are telling them. But they may not be listening because they are “stuck” on something you said early on. Don't be surprised if they bring the conversation back to something that was discussed earlier.


Tips for handling your children's questions:

  • Think before you speak. it's OK to take time to think about the question before you answer.
  • Try to keep your answers simple. Too much information will confuse the children, and too many details may only upset them.
  • If you don't have all of the answers, be honest about it. Then explain that you will let them know as soon as you can. Make sure you follow through with this promise.
  • Be careful not to blame or disrespect the other parent.
  • Talk about things in ways your kids will understand.

Once the children know that you’ve decided to separate or divorce, use the suggestions in the next section to remind them they can talk to you any time.