Relationships Quick Answers
How much should I tell my young daughter about why her father and I got divorced? She is currently 2 years old.
This can be tricky. Some things to consider are:
- Honesty is important. Give your child simple, honest answers so that he or she will know what’s going on.
- At the same time, keep it simple. Avoid giving your child too many details that he or she doesn’t need to know. Think about what information is appropriate for your child to know, versus what information is appropriate for an adult to know. This will depend on your child’s age. For younger children, a short, simple explanation will suffice.
- It is very important to avoid bad-mouthing the other parent. If the other parent had a problem that led to the divorce (addiction, mental illness, etc.), you can be honest with your child that the other parent has some problems he/she needs to work on without going into the details or putting the other parent down. Criticizing the other parent may lead to alienation from both parents. Supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent is usually in the child’s best interest.
Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Assistant Professor and State Specialist, Human Development & Family Studies, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Alison Levitch, Human Development & Family Studies Graduate Student, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Tuesday, August 26, 2008