Divorce and children

If you notice a change in how your parents are behaving toward one another, you may wonder what’s happening. Sometimes, parents don’t realize that their children notice relationship changes when, in reality, kids are very aware of differences in attitude, communication, and actions.

When you see these changes, you may worry that your parents may not stay married. You may even overhear them use the word “divorce.” If you believe your parents might be considering a divorce, here is some information about those signs and what the divorce might mean for you.

Signs That Your Parents Might Be Considering a Divorce

Your parents may choose not to tell you right away if there are problems at home, but you may have noticed changes in their behavior that you don’t like. Some signs of a troubled relationship might include one or more of the following:

  • Your parents aren’t talking to one another as much and rarely spend time together. It’s normal for some parents to lead busy lives, but you may feel they’re together less.
  • Your parents begin to argue more often than usual. Having disagreements can be a normal part of a healthy relationship, but you may notice these disagreements are happening more and more and may be getting louder or more intense.
  • They begin sleeping apart, with one parent on the couch or in a separate bedroom. Many adults do this for a variety of reasons, particularly if one or the other snores or sleeps too restlessly for the other to sleep well, but you might notice it happening more often than usual.

Just because you notice some or even all of these things happening doesn’t mean your parents are divorcing or even considering a divorce. Every relationship has ups and downs, and these behaviors could be a sign that your parents are considering a variety of options, not necessarily divorce. 

Additionally, there are a number of reasons why your parents may not talk about their problems with you, at least not right away. Your parents may not be ready to acknowledge to themselves that they’re having issues, but more likely, your parents don’t want to involve you in adult problems and may be trying to protect you. Do your best to understand that parents can get caught up in their relationship with one another and not realize that it’s affecting you, too.

Also remember that sometimes, over-sharing from parents can be worse than under-sharing. You may really not want to know every little detail of their relationship while they try to work out their problems. Try to be understanding, and give them a little bit of time and space because resolving marital issues can take a lot of time and energy. Know that they love you and will be there for you.

What to Do If You Think Your Parents Are Divorcing

If you’re concerned, the best thing to do is to talk to your parents directly. Tell them that you’ve noticed they’re behaving differently, and you’re worried. It’s okay to admit if you’re scared, too. But remember, no matter what answers your parents provide, if a divorce is coming, your parents will still love you as much as while they were married, and both parents may be happier afterward.  

A Note for Parents

If your child is asking questions about an impending divorce, it’s good to be honest, but keep explanations relatively simple. You aren’t obligated to share the specific details of your marriage with your child, and in fact, it’s probably best if you don’t. Address your child’s concerns and consider talking about what’s changing, what’s not changing, and that you’ll handle the details as things happen. Reassure your child that what’s happening isn’t his fault, and that no matter what the future holds for you and your spouse, your love for your child isn’t changing. Together, you can get through this.

The Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny have been helping people with their divorce-related legal issues for over two decades. If you have questions and would like to talk to one of our family attorneys, please call us to arrange a consultation in our Bellevue offices at (425) 460-0550.