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Your Child’s Inner Voice About Divorce – Are You Listening?

Image of Your Child’s Inner Voice About Divorce – Are You Listening?

“It must be my fault that my parents are getting divorced.”

“I am so confused; I do not know who to listen to.”

“I feel so scared and helpless when my parents fight.”

“Will my parents still love me?”

Repeatedly, in counselling sessions and our programmes, we hear the voices of distressed children grappling with their parents’ divorce.

The process of divorce introduces alterations to family structure, dynamics, and daily routines, which can overwhelm both adults and children. Though, every child differs in their reactions and the intensity of their reactions, it is not uncommon to see children grapple with a myriad of emotions like anger, worry, disappointments, confusion, hurt or helplessness.

An 8-year-old boy expressed his stress at having to shuttle between two homes during school days.  A 7-year-old girl shared the poignant grief she felt over the loss of family time, outings, and vacations.  In addition to grappling with challenging emotions, some children may develop misconceptions about themselves, their relationships, and the world. For example, during one of our programmes, an 11-year-old boy felt responsible for managing his father’s depressive emotions, while an 8-year-old girl believed she was unworthy and unlovable, leading her mother to leave home.

The pleas from children are frequently overlooked or neglected, as parents are often consumed by their own pain and stress resulting from a marital breakdown, hindering their ability to fully address their children’s emotional needs.

If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what you can do to support your child/children:

  • Explain

Communicate with your child/children in a neutral and age-appropriate manner about the divorce, using simple explanations such as, “We can’t agree on many things, so it’s better for us to live apart to avoid constant arguments.”

  • Prepare

Prepare your child/children for upcoming changes while assuring them of your support to help them navigate through the transition.

  • Provide

Create a safe environment for your child or children to express their feelings and thoughts about the divorce by regularly checking in with them, listening empathetically, and reassuring them that their emotions are important, valid, and normal.

  • Assure

Assure them of your love and care for them and that they are able to have continual access to the other parent.

  • Work on co-parenting

Focus on co-parenting with the other parent for the well-being of your child/children, avoiding ongoing conflicts that could extend their pain or negative impact.

There are also other helpful resources in the community that you can tap on to support your child/children.

One such programme is The Children of Divorce Intervention Programme (CODIP). CODIP is an evidence-based preventive groupwork programme. CODIP focuses on providing a safe platform for children to express and understand their feelings related to parents’ divorce, so they do not feel so isolated. It also seeks to promote understanding about divorce and address common misconceptions children often have about divorce.

Another focus of the programme is to help children acquire coping and problem-solving skills. They will learn how to manage their feelings, identify and resolve problems within their control. CODIP also places emphasis on enhancing children’s perception of self and their families. Some children have the tendency to feel inferior due to the changes in their family structure. CODIP directs children to focus on their own uniqueness and develop positive regard for their families despite the changes.

CODIP is suitable for children aged 7-12. The number of participants at each run will be kept at a maximum of 10. It consists of 1 introductory session for parents and 6 two hourly sessions for children.

Date: 31 May, 3, 7, 10, 14, & 21 June

Time: 10am – 12pm for aged 7-8, 3.30pm – 5.30pm for aged 9-12

To register, please use this link, or contact us at [email protected] or 6235 5229.

 Written by: Carolyn Ku, Counsellor at FAM@FSC (Fei Yue – CCK)


Pedro-Carroll, J. L., Alpert-Gillis, L. J., & Sterling, S. E. (1987). Children of Divorce Intervention Program: Procedures manual for conducting support groups with 2nd and 3rd grade children. Children of Divorce Intervention Program, University of Rochester, Center for Community Study.