when is the right time to explain parents separation to a child?

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i have to weigh in here as well...stephanie...i agree. i do NOT think that as a divorced parent i am setting my daughter up to fail in her relationships and marriage. if i had stayed with her father, i would have been. he was an abusive alcoholic. there is almost nothing more painful for a child to witness then to watch mommy and daddy hurt each other. you have to do what is best for you AND FOR YOUR CHILDREN. melanie, how old are your children? my daughter is 3, she was only 19 months when i left my ex husband, and i dont think she remembers us ever all living in the same house. she asked me recently why mommy and daddy dont live together and i told her that mommy and daddy loved each other and made her, but after time things just didnt work and mommy and daddy decided to live in different houses, but that we both still love her very very much. she is young enough that it was enough explanation for her. at her age she does not need to know the details of our divorce, she is a child. when she is older and asks more questions i will be honest with her, but at this point a simple explanation was enough. i waited until she asked me why before offering any information. i think that they key is not to confuse your child, especially in an already confusing situation. evanna...while i agree that god hates divorce, i also am fairly sure that god hates to see one of his children in emotional, physical and mental anguish. i dont think it's fair to generalize and say that you should always work it out. that is NOT always an option. as i said before, you have to do what is best for yourself and your children.

Stephanie - posted on 02/24/2010

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Well that depends on how old your children are..My daughter was three when her dad and I split up and I told her right away. I broke it down of course for her to understand. I just said that mommy and daddy couldn't live together because they could not get along anymore and she understood. I know that its hard but I have found that the policy is honesty no matter how hard. Children can understand so much and they know when something is not right. Now if your children are still very young and by that I mean under three then I would prolly wait until they asked

Karen - posted on 02/21/2010

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It is a very difficult situation to be placed in, however; the upside is that as long as you are honest with your child and let them be a part of the decision making process, it will ultimately bring the 2 of you closer together. I have had to deal with this twice and I feel that the right time to explain it is before they really notice a difference. You should approach them to talk before they come to you because it makes your child more trusting of you. If they trust you to be honest with them, they will come to you in the future seeking advice about a situation you otherwise may never have found out about. Keep your door open..because your child is reassured when they don't have to knock!

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Stephania - posted on 10/27/2012

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Thank you so much Carla. I will give that a try. I always try to speak highly of him especially in front of her. Thank you again. She seriosuly loves her dad.

Carla - posted on 10/27/2012

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Hi, Stephania. This is heart-breaking, isn't it? Almost all children want their moms and dads together, and they don't understand why they aren't. At 4, it's difficult to explain to them, but I would keep it very simple. "No, honey, Daddy doesn't live here anymore, he is going to his home to sleep in his bed." Most divorces aren't amiable, and I'm sure you don't want her knowing all the dirty little details involved. She should be able to keep her innocence as long as possible. But I think if you are gentle, but firm with your explanation, it will suffice her for a while. My children, especially my daughter, NEVER knew the details of our divorce. It would have crushed her. These are realities that should stay between you and your ex.



Make sure you speak well of your ex, even if you don't feel that way. In the wise words of Thumper, the rabbit, 'if you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all'. This is one mistake I wish I hadn't made.



When you and your daughter say your evening prayers, pray for Daddy. Remember, she loves him completely. Daddies have a special place in a girl's heart. I hope he is worthy of her love. If he isn't, pray for him.



God bless, hon. It's difficult, but with God's help, you will get through this.

Stephania - posted on 10/26/2012

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i am actually seeking some sort of advice on this. Me and my ex separated almost a year ago. My daughter is 4 and she has mentioned that she wants daddy to sleep over and come upstairs. When she asks, i'm not sure what to say to her. The most i've ever said was that daddy doesnt live here anymore. It's painful to see her get sad not knowing exactly what she is thinking. she expresses that she is sad but what exactly can i tell her. she is only 4.

Lawanna - posted on 02/25/2010

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The best time to explain seperation is when the child starts asking questions about it, don't press the issue. Untill the child starts to notice and starts asking questions then just act like everything is normal and go about your daily lives. If you try to explain before they start asking then it will only add to the fact that something is wrong with their family.

Karissa - posted on 02/25/2010

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I grew up for 7 years with just me and my mom. I never thought there was anything wrong with it. There will be a time when your child wonders and will ask you questions. That's when you know they are ready. I don't know when my mom told me about my real dad. I don't remember her ever telling me anything unless I asked. I liked it that way. I never worried about not having a "dad" and I think because she never just offered the information it made me not dwell on that fact. My mom NOT staying with my biological dad was the best thing to happen to me. When she met my now dad I began to ask questions. And even now I wonder why my mom did things that she did, her answer most times is "He wasn't a good man, and he wasn't a good dad." And I know this to be true because I have my dad, and he is a wonderful man. Yes it sucks not having a mom and dad in the house but letting your kid know that it is much better now than it was before will help them be more accepting.

Patricia - posted on 02/25/2010

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I am a single Mom and my childred and now 17 and 19 in two months. When they were young around 2 and I went back to job I talked to them. Explaining to them that I had to leave them but I would return and at what time. Even though they couldn't tell time they could adk the sitter and know about the time to be looking for mommy. Later when their father and I separated I started talking to them about it more, because Dad had left and was not coming back I wanted them to be assured that I was always going to be coming back for them. So on the first day of nursery school and pre school I didn't have what a lot of other Mom's had the crying children because I left them at school, they were certain Mommy would be back. It was great, then I wanted to cry, LOL

Stephanie - posted on 02/24/2010

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Hi Evanna, I have to say that I disagree with you I do not think that by a couple getting a divoirce or seperating that they are setting thier children up for failure. In fact I have known many women and men that came from an unbroken home and when they got married they could not make it work. I myself was in a terrible marriage and I felt that staying would only harm the childrens out look on marriage. Marriage can be a beautiful thing when you are with the right person but I dont think children should see marriage as this awful thing. I believe that if a couple has truly tried to work it out and they cannot then the best thing for them would be to seperate and maybe diviorce. I know the Lord hates diviorce but I dont think that he wants us to be unhappy.

Melanie - posted on 02/24/2010

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hi girls thanks for sharing. but my situation now is becoming really complicated . and its been couple of years since me and my husband are physically separated which means wqe are still married by laws.right now he has a gf and i have a bf and new baby with my new bf. as i said my first baby with my husband is with him or sometimes my mom picks her up to spend her weekend with my mom. im out of the country for job so i havent seen her for almost 2 yrs now. though we chat and see on cam but theres a big difference. i am just concern on how to deal with her when she comes to conciousness with her parents situation.i really missed her, its like a hole in my heart that i have to face every day and night.

Evanna - posted on 02/23/2010

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Separation is a terrible thing. I don't know if this is temporary or if you are heading to divorce court and I don't know the age of your child. I am watching my sister go through custody hearings for her daughter and it is awful. If at all possible, you and your husband should try to reconcile. If you continue on this course, you and your husband are setting your children up for failure in their future marriages and you are starting a cycle that will be hard to break. Both my husband and I are from broken homes. It is not fun trying to get to 4 different homes at Christmas and deciding which parent we might want to see at other holidays. As well, since my dad remarried, he never comes to any family events that my mom might be at because of his new wife. This might feel right and good now, to separate, but unless the situation is toxic and very harmful, I strongly recommend reconcilation. Especially if you both profess to be followers of Christ. Remember that God hates divorce and that our marriages are to serve as a picture of Christ's marriage to the church. Pray, pray , and pray some more. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you were at fault and seek forgiveness from your husband and pray for him. That is where it needs to begin. Pray and search and study your Bible and get good Godly counsel.

Carla - posted on 02/22/2010

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One thing I want to add here is to reassure your child that this separation/divorce, whichever it is, is NOT the child's fault. I have seen this over and over. Since a child's world is so small, they are not aware of outside influences to the parent's relationships, and equate something they have done as being the cause of the parents being angry. Talk very honestly with the child/children; you don't have to go into gory details, but say, for instance: Mommy and Daddy are having problems we don't know how to fix, so we are going to live in different houses. It is not your fault, you have done nothing wrong. Daddy/Mommy loves you, we just can't live together.



People say children are resilient, and they are, to a certain degree, but divorce/separation is devastating to them. I urge, with every fiber of my being, that you try to solve your differences and give them the stability of a loving two-parent home. We have been married 38 years, some of them REAL ugly. We'd separate, reconcile, separate. This was hard on the children, even as teenagers; we did, however, stick it out and have become a loving, Christian couple. This taught our children that, even though you have troubles, you suck it up and make it work. Good luck, honey.

Cathy - posted on 02/20/2010

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im just not sure and was wondering the same thing , i know she will start to notice something is different once she starts school and her friends have both parents in the house i just was not equipped to live as a single mom i had two parents in the same house and was raised that was how to do it so it is frustrating and hard to do this two separate households and i really have no idea when the right time to tell her would be , maybe i will wait till she asks, if you get anything different let me know sorry i couldnt be more of a help mine is 22 months so she still a baby

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