5 ways to explain divorce to your child

April 05, 2017
  • 1 / 6

    If you and your spouse are heading for divorce, you will have to tell your kid at some point soon.

    Here are some of the tough questions he might ask, and suggested answers.
    Always take his questions seriously, provide reassurance and let him know he can ask you questions about this anytime he wants.

    Related: 1 in 4 married couples in Singapore think of divorce

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  • “Why are you and Daddy getting divorced?”
    2 / 6 “Why are you and Daddy getting divorced?”

    What you could say
    “Daddy and I are going to live apart because we are not getting on well with each other.
    But I still care about him and he still cares about me, and we both still love you. It’s just one of those things.”

    What your answer should do
    Your child is trying to make sense of the disturbing change in his life and he loves both of you.

    Your reply should tell him in simple terms why you are breaking up, but at the same time emphasising that you both still care for each other and for your child.

    He wants to remain loyal to both of you and does not want to have to choose one instead of the other.

    Related: Divorce in Singapore: Less educated couples have higher chance of breaking up


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  • “Is it my fault? Have I done something wrong?”
    3 / 6 “Is it my fault? Have I done something wrong?”

    What you could say
    “No, it has nothing to do with you. You have done absolutely nothing wrong. You are a wonderful child. This is totally about me and Daddy.”

    What your answer should do
    Your kid’s instinctive reaction is to blame himself for the separation, and he worries it is his fault.

    So, it’s important to reassure him that you both think he is wonderful and that the parental split has absolutely nothing to do with him.

    No matter how much he tries to take responsibility, make it clear that he is innocent.

    Related: When parents have different discipline styles

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  • “Will I see Daddy once he moves out?”
    4 / 6 “Will I see Daddy once he moves out?”

    What you could say
    “Of course you will see him. Daddy and I will make sure of that, so you have nothing to worry about. This week, for instance, you are going to meet him on Friday afternoon after school.”

    What your answer should do
    Your child loves both of you and he wants you both to remain in his life, even if you don’t like each other.

    Your answer should provide reassurance that, of course, he will continue to see his father.
    You should even tell him when and where they will meet.

    Concrete details help your child trust what you say.

    Related: Explaining the absence of his father

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  • “Will I have to change my school?”
    5 / 6 “Will I have to change my school?”

    What you could say
    “No, of course you will go the same school. That’s not going to change. We know you have lots of friends and like your teacher, so you will stay there.”

    What your answer should do
    Your young one already thinks ahead and is concerned about the implications the divorce has for him.

    Emphasise that nothing will change about his schooling routine.

    Unless you are certain that you will move house and will move out of the area, you should make it clear that he’ll continue to go to the same school.

    Related: Divorce in Singapore: Marriages to foreigners less likely to last

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  • “Will you and Daddy get back together soon?”
    6 / 6 “Will you and Daddy get back together soon?”

    What you could say
    “Daddy and I are not going to get back together. I am being very honest with you, and I don’t want to pretend to you. But we’ll soon get used the new arrangement, don’t worry.”

    What your answer should do
    Your kid wants his mother and father to live together in his house – that’s all he’s known and he wants it to continue.

    Your answer has to be realistic. No matter how tempted you might be at this point, don’t give your child false hope.

    Instead, gently repeat that the separation is permanent and reassure him that you’ll all soon get used to the new situation.

    Related: Celebrity couple Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo divorce after 11 years

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