Divorce is a difficult transition for families. There are a lot of changes and a lot of feelings involved for everyone. As a parent, you may worry frequently about how your child is handling your divorce. While some kids are willing and able to articulate how they feel, others may not be able to find the words or may worry about opening up the flood gate of emotions. Asking questions like, “how are you feeling,” or “how can I help,” while important, can sometimes be hard to answer for children and may lead to limited responses. As an alternative, it can be helpful to ask your child more specific, open-ended questions that elicit more thoughtful responses. Asking these types of questions will not only encourage your child to reflect more on how they are feeling but will often lead to more dynamic conversations as well.
Here are 10 simple questions you can ask your child today:
- Is there anything you are worried about regarding the changes to our family?
- How are you feeling about having 2 houses?
- Have you told your friends about the divorce? How have they reacted?
- Do you feel supported as you are experiencing this change?
- Is there anything I can do to better support you?
- What are you feeling most sad about?
- What do you feel has gone well as we adjust to this new family dynamic?
- Do you feel that you have been getting enough time with both mom and dad?
- If you could change one thing about how the divorce is going, what would it be?
- What has been the biggest challenge?
As your child shares their responses, I encourage you to focus on listening and validating their experience over trying to make them feel better or fix things. Feeling heard and validated can go a long way to helping children cope.