Nobody gets married and hopes one day to get divorced, especially after you have children. However, things happen and people drift apart, and sometimes divorce is the only solution. When you have kids, though, divorce becomes tougher, especially when the children are young. Talking to your child about divorce is important, but when your child is a toddler, it’s hard for them to comprehend what’s happening and why. However, open communication is still key, even if it’s limited, and below are some tips to help you talk with your toddler about divorce.
Pick the right time.
Toddlers have no concept of time, and they often forget things very quickly. Because of this, it’s necessary for you to pick the right time when it comes to talking with your toddler about divorce. For instance, be sure you talk to them right before the separation is happening. This way, your child will not be confused as to why they were told Mommy or Daddy would no longer be in the house, but will see it in action right away. As for timing, it’s also important to do this when your toddler is alert and awake, so keeping them up late or doing it during nap time will only make the situation worse.
Your toddler needs to see both parents as a team, so it’s important you talk to him/her together. Sit down with your toddler as a united front and tell him/her that Mommy and Daddy will no longer be living in the same house. Use this time to be positive with your child, and don’t use it as a time to start pointing blame or talking poorly about the other parent. Again, doing so will only make the situation worse.
Keep it simple.
Your toddler is good at understanding, but complicating things will only confuse your child. Instead, keep the communication simple and straightforward. For instance, “Mommy and Daddy will no longer be living in the same house. Mommy will live (insert place) and Daddy will live (insert place).” There’s a chance your child may ask why, and again, you need to keep this communication simple. Getting into specifics is not necessary at this time.
Stay positive and reassuring.
Repetition is key for a toddler, and following a schedule is something you’ve done for a while. Because of this, you need to stay positive with your toddler. Reassure your child that both Mommy and Daddy love him/her very much and will both still be taking care of him/her. Always talk nicely about your ex with your child around to keep a positive relationship between your child and your ex.
Make it consistent.
Since schedules are important, it’s a good idea to make the custody arrangement consistent between you and your ex. For instance, have you and your ex keep the same days/time for spending time with your child, i.e., Mommy has the child on Mondays and Wednesdays and Daddy has the child on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This will help your child think of the divorce as more routine than anything.
Consider a therapist.
Sometimes even toddlers can take divorce relatively hard, so if you notice signs of trouble with your child after the divorce, consider seeing a therapist
. Your child will have someone safe they can talk to, and it can be just what your child needs to help process what’s happening and help them find a healthy way to convey their feelings.
Although you may not think your toddler will understand the divorce, it’s still important to talk with him or her about it.