How do I tell my 5 yo daughter about my divorce?

Cherie - posted on 12/17/2008 ( 11 moms have responded )

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My divorce was final in August 2008 (I had decided to divorce in Sept 2007 and served him in Jan 2008). We haven't told my daughter about the divorce yet. The biggest reason is because my ex was in Iraq as a contractor for KBR for the past 3 years and it was the norm for her to not have him living with us and only visiting a week or so every 3 or 4 months, if that. Now he is back and is living in our house until it sells (which could be soon!). I have since moved with my daughter to my home town about 200 miles away to be closer to my family & friends for support & the love that we haven't had for some time. Now, we are faced with the questions from her, as to why we don't do allot of things as a family anymore. I would like to tell her after the holidays (with my ex of course), but I'm just at a loss for what to say....



Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!

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Ann - posted on 12/19/2008

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Sara's post triggered a reminder of something I did for my daughter when her father and I first separated. We have 50/50 physical custody and in the beginning she would get confused as to who she was with and when. I went to a book store and bought her a small day planner. Next to each date I went in and put an M or a D (mommy and daddy) as to who she was with on that day. She kept it with her in her back pack and she could pull it out whenever she wanted...home or school...and be confident that she knew where she was going to be. I remember alot of people being impressed with that idea, so I love to share it with everyone that can use the advice!

Jennifer - posted on 12/19/2008

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I got divorce when my 2 kids were very young. It is VERY important to tell the kids that even though mommy and daddy not together, that will always love them. Also another thing I learned is talk positive and not to put kids in middle or say anything bad about another parents. That will just start making the kids taking sides and use that to play games between you and the ex. That something I see all the time.. and it works well when not to do that.

Sara - posted on 12/18/2008

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Hi, I understand your positon and concern, and it would be really helpful if you and your ex can explain the situation to her together. The most important thing that you both need to tell her is that it has absolutely nothing to do with her, that its not her fault in anyway that you guys are separating. Also its really important that you guys maintain a schedule between the two of you so that she's not left heart broken or wondering why her father never came to see her. Most importantly never under any circumstances make negative comments about your ex and vice-versa. This puts the child under a lot of presure to take sides and in the long run it can also prove to be quite damaging. You never know what kids will take to heart or misconstrue. Another thing that happens a lot is that parents feel sorry for the child and start spoiling them with unnessary objects and sooner or later it becomes a competition between the parents, and kids pick up on this and sometimes start using this as leverage when they can't get there way. Its really important for you guys to undrstand that even though you are divorced - you haven't divorced your child, so try to keep things as normal as possible for her and try to answer all her questions truthfully and keep assuring her that its not her fault....

Hope this helps and I wish you the best ..

Sara

Ann - posted on 12/18/2008

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My daughter was 5 when we divorced too. I found this book "It's not your fault Koko Bear" which I had with me. Her father and I both sat down and told her that we were not going to be together anymore...waited for her reaction and then asked her if she had any questions. I don't remember her having any questions...but we told her that we had not been getting along the way a husband and wife should (I did NOT use the terms Mommy and Daddy because that does not change) and that we are better off being friends...and THAT will make us a better Mommy and Daddy to her! You will be surprised at how bright a child that age is...I remember asking her if she ever heard Mommy and Daddy have arguements (we would go to the basement) and she answered that she had. THAT broke my heart and solidified that we made the right decision. I didn't want my kids growing up to see that! After we talked about it for a while, we both sat down and read the book to her. If you decide to do this, don't be alarmed at how difficult it would be to read this out loud...we all cried! But we also told her that it was OK. No one gets married with the plans to get divorced. We hoped it would work, but it's ok when it doesn't! I did also make a point of seeing her teacher on the Friday afternoon before the weekend that we told her, so they could keep an eye on her. I think you would be hard pressed to find a teacher who will not keep an extra eye on her, so get them involved.

I will say a prayer for you all that it goes well...it was a huge boulder off my shoulders once it was out in the open. Hugs your way, girlfriend!

Ali - posted on 12/18/2008

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I was four when my own parents separated, and never said a word about it to me. I eventually found out that "your mom and dad don't love each other anymore" when I was thirteen from my older sister over the phone. I was heartbroken and actually let her go so I could cry without anyone hearing it. My only advice is to not wait and try to make her understand, through stories and other things, how a divorce is best for a family: ie. with my own parents, they cooperated more since they're personalities didn't clash as much. Just remind her on a daily basis how much you both love her and when you have figured out what your relationship with her father will be like, try to ensure her that there are no hard feelings and that you both care for each other (if that's the case). Otherwise, she'll build an imaginary idea of your relationship through the way you talk to each other and that may hurt her.

Good luck :)

User - posted on 12/18/2008

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honesty, counseling and books for her to read and understand its not that either of you are divorcing her. My parents divorced when i was little . they were honest and open...(sort of..ha,ha) it worked out fine. good luck and congrats on your new life!

Sharn - posted on 12/18/2008

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Hello i found the best with my two boys was to tell the turth but in a way they under stand like "mummy and daddy are not getting on and we dont like to see you upset and we are still a famliy we still love you so much but things will a bit deffent but better cos there will be no more bad feelings with mummy and daddy" sorry it thats going on hope it helps kids are very good with coping i hope things work out, take care sharn x

Stacy - posted on 12/17/2008

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I know what you are going threw. I have 2 kids. I was up front with them from the start, cause they hear and see things that we don't think they do. We or I should say that I told them up front cause I felt that it was the best way for all of us to cope with the situation as a family. They still have trouble with it at times, but they are doing great. I feel for ur little girl going threw this and not really understanding it all. I had a time with my daughter, and she tried to play both of us against each other. But for the most part me and my X have been straight forward with not only the kids but with each other too. I hope that you find the right words to say to her. Just reasure her that both of you love her more than anything in this world, and show her that as well. It's going to be tough but there are so many out here. Good luck

Leslie - posted on 12/17/2008

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I left my husband 6 weeks after my baby was born.....he is 6 years old now. I struggled for a long time about how to tell my son. Like your first replier (Kay)......make sure they know that they are still loved by the both of you. Don't offer a ton of details why the divorce happened. At age 5 they don't understand the details anyway. Just let your child know that they will have a happier (better) Mom and Dad.....which always makes a happier (healthier) child.

Kay - posted on 12/17/2008

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reasurance is always the key. let her know that this is nothin to do with her an that just because you and daddy arn't together anymore it doesn't mean she is loved any less. You need to make it clear that you still love her dad but you don't get along any more,an you will both be better mum an dad seperatly.She needs to know that she can still see daddy an that being apart will make you better parents as you won't be arguin x x

[deleted account]

I think the best way is just to be honest to your daughter. She might not understand all of it, try to explain why you are not living together. I left my husband after 11/2 yr in Australia because we were fightling a lot about all kind of things and I decided to leave him. My daughter was 15 at the time and she tought it was their fault because they weren't always listening to us and I had to ensure her that was not the case. I find the most awfull things when parents are lying to their children about divorce and seperation, the truth will come out and you don't know how your child will act once she grows up if she finds out.

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