Divorce takes its toll on everyone involved. Parents often get quite caught up in the “mess” of the separation and may forget that their children are being affected too. In many cases, parents may believe their children are too young to understand what it happening and, perhaps, brush over the topic with their child. Some research suggests parents spend as little as ten minutes (total) talking about the separation with their children (http://lisaherrick.com/separation-and-divorce-work/guide-to-telling-the-children-about-the-divorce/). It is very important to talk to your child as often as possible, and as honestly as possible (keeping it age-appropriate), about what is happening. Talking to your child about what is happening and helping him to make sense of the changes, and have his questions answered helps him to know some predictability and control over an otherwise confusing situation. It is really important during family changes that occur due to parental separation that children experience some sense of stability and security, as this will help them cope better with the changes that are happening.
In some cases, parents find it difficult to talk to their children. Or they have spoken to their child and don’t feel like there is any more to say. In still other cases, parents may believe that their child is coping well and that talking about the divorce may re-open wounds. Every divorce situation is different, just as every child is different. Parents need to be sensitive to their specific situation and their specific child. Ensuring your child knows you are available to talk through things or answer her questions when she has them will help your child approach you when they are ready.
As a parent you are best person to assess your child and give them what they need – be that a space to talk about their feelings, or some fun activities to get their minds off the changing family situation. Being able to read your child is especially important to notice when they are not coping well and when you may need professional intervention.