Explaining Divorce to a Child
“Mommy why did you get divorced from Daddy?” He asked me this quietly as he sat down on his bed.
I inhale deeply, remembering that night almost five years ago when I had to tell him that we were not going back to the apartment we lived in with his dad.
He cried and asked to come home. I couldn’t tell him the truth so I told him we were staying with his grandparents for now.
He was only a little over three years old.
Gradually, I began to explain to him that his father and I were divorced. We lived our lives separately, but we both loved him greatly.
After his kindergarten graduation, I explained to him that being divorced means he now has two homes; he was lucky to have two homes full of people who loved him.
As my boy grew older things changed. Especially when Dan, now my fiancé, was introduced into his life.
He began to ask more questions.
“My Daddy said there is only one Dad and only one Mom.” I agreed. I told him Oom Dan will never replace his father, but that Oom Dan loves him like his own son.
This is why I stand firmly in asking my family to never speak negatively about his father, especially in front of him. Like it or not, he is still the father of my child and even divorce will never change that. Thankfully, my family is doing much better at this. I know it must be difficult for them considering what happened.
“Why did you and Daddy get divorced?”
“Come here Alex…sit with me…” I patted the bed and he snuggled close to me. I hugged him, wanting that hug to transfer all my love so he would feel how much I adored him. I needed him to know that his parents’ divorce had nothing to do with him.
“Sometimes, two people get married and then they later realize that they are happier when they are not together. It was not a mistake to marry your Dad. We have you and you are not a mistake. You are a blessing to us. Your Dad and I are happier now; we both have our own lives.”
I stopped and searched his face for traces of understanding.
Then the dam broke.
My boy cried big tears. He sobbed uncontrollably and my heart broke for him.
He curled up in a fetal position on my lap. Oh, my heart. I felt the hurt in his tears; I wished I could shield him from the pain and the confusion.
“It’s okay to feel sad Alex. It’s normal to feel that way.” Softly I rubbed his head and let him cry.
“You know I am happy with Dan, right?” his eyes looked straight into mine as I asked him this. “You know Dan and I are now engaged. We will get married soon.”
He nodded and wiped his face.
“Daddy is very happy too with his family now. You have a very cute little brother.” I’ve met the little boy before. He is cute and absolutely adores his big brother.
“Yes but he hits me sometimes…” I told him his little brother just needed his attention and wanted to play with him.
Fast forward to tonight when I had a chance to chat with my ex for a bit. We talked about the arrangement for Alex’s birthday. He celebrated his birthday this year with his Dad. We took turns for birthdays and the Holidays.
Then I asked him.
“Did Alex ever ask you why we got divorced? He asked me the last time he returned from your place.”
“No, not yet but I’m sure he will.”
I told him what had happened and how I thought Alex was trying to understand what happened to his parents. Wondering why we are not together like a normal family.
“We have to make sure he knows it was not his fault. Sometimes children blame themselves.” He said.
“I guess in school he feels different than his friends. I saw on his religion worksheet about happy families, etc.”
“I guess maybe he was a bit worried that I’m not married yet. He keeps asking when Dan and I will get married.”
“Yes he does, because he mentions that here too. He wants to make sure everyone he loves is happy.
I was surprised by this but clearly; he is bound to say things about me and Dan when he is over at his Dad’s.
“He said Mommy and Dan will get married and I said yes because they love each other and are happy. And I am happy for Mommy.”
I had tears running down my face as I heard his words. He and I had come a long way. That’s what I had told Alex too before. That I am so happy for his father. That sweet boy must just want to make sure I am fine.
Oh bless you my boy.
“Yes, I’m sure he just wants you to be happy and make sure it’s okay with me.” He added.
We discussed it for a while and agreed that in his own mind he is trying to understand divorce and its aftermath. He’s trying to figure out what his parents moving on with their own lives really means.
If you are divorced how do you handle your children’s questions?
Please share your experience in the comments section below. I’d love to hear it.
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This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC