Talking to your kids about child support is tremendously difficult. It’s actually pretty rare for parents to tell their children that money is coming from a partner they’ve divorced. The assumption made my children is that the parent they spend most of their time with provides everything.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of either parent, either. It’s not so much that a parent misleads their child as it is that it’s so hard to know how to talk about.
Parents should discuss how they want to handle this. The partner paying the child support may resent not being recognized when they sometimes change their lives around in order to be able to afford it. Similarly, the parent who needs help with child support might fear being valued less if their child knows that some of the finances being provided come from the other parent. Try to move past these things. There’s more than enough care to go around, unless you try to compete for it and chase it away.
Talking to your kids about child support is best done early. The more you wait, the more children create inaccurate ideas to explain things. You don’t need to relay every detail, but children can handle the broad concept well.
Frame it as a way both parents can care. Children will be able to recognize child support as a way of giving care by the parent they may not spend as much time with. This can help the child feel like the parent they see less isn’t quite as out of their lives as they thought. That can do wonders for self-confidence. Knowing a parent is working hard to care for them in a way that’s otherwise invisible can make your child recognize that they’re more cared for than they thought.
Don’t delve into numbers, but do present some of the things the child support helps pay for. Whether it helps with groceries, camp, dance class, clothing, or books – children will feel more loved when they know something comes from both parents rather than just one.
Talking to your kids about child support doesn’t need to be difficult. Done the right way, you might find it was more difficult for you to approach than it is for them to hear. Your child – and both parents – will probably feel better about it afterward. If you need help with child support, you don’
t have to make this part of the conversation, but there are assistance programs out there that can help.