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Focus on the Family

Helping kids through divorce

My husband and I divorced some time ago. Our son is still small, but he's been asking questions about why Mummy and Daddy don't live together anymore. What should I tell him?

It's not unusual for children whose parents have recently divorced to have adjustment problems. In addition to the confusion you've described, many kids experience anxiety or depression. Some even engage in aggressive or destructive behaviour. Your son's sense of safety and security has been compromised at a very early age, and now you're observing the aftermath.

You may not want to hear this, but the research on the long-term effects of divorce on children isn't very pretty. A significant percentage of kids from divorced homes struggle with depression, academic problems, drug and alcohol abuse, and other issues. Many of them have difficulty establishing or maintaining close, intimate relationships.

For all these reasons, we'd suggest that the best way to help your son is to reconcile with your husband.

If for some reason reconciliation is impossible, then you're going to have to do everything in your power to help your son adjust. He will need an extra measure of your love, your reassurance and (especially) your time.

It's important to teach him how to express his feelings of anger and sadness in appropriate ways. There are books that can help you guide him through the healing process.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia (www.family.org.my) and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.