18 answers

How to Explain Divorce to a 5 Year Old

My Husband and I of 6 years, have had many fights ( nothing physical ) just mostly yelling and such... But this past weekend, it went wayyy beyond any help...
So I am thinking it's time to just be done with this ( crying while writing sorry )to stop the emotional hurt, and burden it's putting on myself, and our 5 year old son to see his mommy always crying, and being mad at daddy..
Our son loves his mommy and daddy to peices, if it goes this direction, how do I do it?? How do I tell him, make him know that mommy and daddy will always love him, just having troubles right now?
I myself have appt to go to a counselor, for myself, and keep me stable emotinally and physically.. I am not sure what else to do? Can anyone help with advice or knowledge or experiences

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

THANK ALL YOU LADIES FOR THE WONDERFUL WORDS OF ADVICE.. AFTER HAVING A DECENT CONVERSATION WE HAVE AGREED TO NOT FIGHT, AND TRY TO GET ALONG BETTER, AND STAY TOGETHER, AND HE'S WILLING TO TRY COUNSELING WITH ME.. WE'LL SEE WHERE THIS TAKES US.. THANK YOU ALL AGAIN, I LOVE THIS SITE!!!

Featured Answers

That is awesome you are planning on working it out!!! Keep us posted and let us know if you need any additional help! Congrats to you...I hope you take time to celebrate!!

More Answers

M.,
I am so sorry to hear your pain, and I hope that you can find strengh to get thru it! It is so hard when you have children, but I believe that you can't stay togather just becaues you share a child either. I would suggest you both work togather for his sake, if you do decide to divorce. Make sure that you guys can get along in frount of your child and work togather on making him feel secure and safe and loved!
Spend extra time with him, and as he gets older then maybe he will understand alittle better.
I will be here to support ya!
-M.

1 mom found this helpful

M., I first want to wish you the best and to tell you you're doing well by making your first priority to take care of yourself.

We all go through hard times, yes, but I have to disagree with one of the responses...there are some times when enough is enough and for the (mental, emotional, AND / OR physical)safety of our children and ourselves, we need to remove ourselves from the danger -- just as if we'd get ourselves out of the way of an out-of-control vehicle.

You need to ask yourself what it was that made your fight over the weekend "beyond any help" and if it was indeed beyond help. If not, see if he'll go to counseling with/without you. Perhaps try to talk with him and at least agree to not fighting when the kids are around...and not yelling to wake them up in the middle of the night.

I also need to ask how his children (not just your son) react to the fighting, how your relationship is with them, and how this will affect them...especially since they have gone through this before?? I'm disappointed that no one else has mentioned them and how they will be affected as they are older and have had to deal with it before.

I felt as you do...and left my boys' dad a year ago. It was an extremely emotionally abusive relationship that began to turn physical and for my sanity and the well-being of my boys, we left. We're trying to work things out, but it's a slow process. We'll have to see how it goes.

My boys were 4 and 2 when we left, and it was a little easier since we hardly saw him at home, anyway. However, the constant questions of "Where's Daddy?" and "When's Daddy going to be here?" and the worst of all "I miss Daddy", "Is Daddy still mad at you?" and "I want Daddy" were hard to take. Most answers were vague...at work, at his friend's, when he can, I don't know, etc. I kept telling them that he loved them and missed them and then changed the subject.

There is no magic pill for this, I wish there was. The closest I've found is a two book compilation..."Letters to Karen" and "Letters to Phillip". In "Letters to Karen", there is a chapter called "Fight the good fight". It is really very good.

Bottom line is only you can decide what is acceptable for you to live with...and what you CAN live with.

All the best to you...feel free to email me in private if you'd like...and take courage -- you're not alone. ~T.

When my husband and I divorced, our son was 4 years old. We basically told him that while we both loved him very much, we just couldn't be happy living with eachother. He witnessed plenty of fights and felt the stress, so this came as no surprise to him. We assured him that we would always be his mommy and daddy and our love for him would never change. We also were careful to explain that this was our problem and not his fault... etc. We also told him that all of his feelings were okay, that ot was okay to cry and be sad and it was even okay and normal for him to feel angry at us. He never expressed that he was angry, but if angry feelings do come up, kids can feel very guilty about it of they don't realise how normal it is and more problems can come from the child feeling shame and guilt than would have come from just simply feeling angry.

My ex husband and I also made a pact that despite our inability to be happily married, we would do our best to work as a team to focus on our son's needs rather than continue to bring up past disappointments, etc. Basically we both agreed that after the divorce, the past was the past, but we still had a son who deserved a happy childhood. Focusing on that instead of eachother was the key - because it was something we could finally agree on. I know many divorced couples who have a hard time with this, but if each person can agree to try to put aside their own ego to focus on the child, it would be well worth it. No matter how angry you are at the other person, the fact remains he/she is still the other most important person in the child's life and that needs to be respected if the child has any chance of eventually healing from what amounts to a real tragedy in any child's life.

A year after the divorce, several family members commented on how well-adjusted my son seemed to be. He is 9 years old now and has accepted the divorce. And although I think he still wishes it could have been different, he also sees that his mom and dad are happier and less angry all the time.

That is awesome you are planning on working it out!!! Keep us posted and let us know if you need any additional help! Congrats to you...I hope you take time to celebrate!!

This so certainly something to bring up to your counselor. Maybe have a childrens counselor see your son with you present of course. But by all means never say negative things about Daddy to the kids. Good luck

Hey M.,
I can relate, I separated from my fathers children when they were very young. The best advice I have for you; is to always let your son know that he is the most important thing in both of your lives, no matter what. Always encourage time to spend with Dad. It is difficult, but it does get better. He will understand when he sees you start to heal. He'll see that smile on your face and know everything is really going to be okay. Good luck. Liisa

Oh M., I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. I can ONLY imagine how difficult it is for you.
Just wondering, have you thought about counseling for both you and your husband? You may feel beyond that but you don't sound as though you're definite on leaving him.
I am happy to hear you are going to seek help to take care of yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of that sweet boy.
I've witnessed too many divorces involving children where the adults act more immature than the children do. Whatever you do don't involve him or say ANYTHING bad about daddy in front of him. I don't really know what else to tell you but just keep telling your son that you and his dad will never love him any less. You cannot love him too much!
Just want you to know even though I might not have the best advice, my heart goes out to you. Stay strong and if you need to talk or even vent we're here for you.
Your fellow mama friend-S.

Hello, I personally have not delt with it but I have seen a lot of parents do it the right way and the wrong way. I am a teacher.

Find some books about it at the library. Constantly tell him you BOTH love him (which I am sure you do). Be as honest with him as you can be about what will happen and whats going on. I don't mean why your are specifically getting divorced. Spend lots of time with him. Try and be civil around each other! I know things got bad but he shouldn't have to see it! And tell his teacher, so she knows what is going on and can help him if needed. Don't change your routine too much or do some drastic changes! And if you think he needs it get him into counseling too! I hope this gives you some ideas!

I really feel your pain. I have a 5 year old and me and his father are divorced. We split up when he was 1 and now that I am in another relationship and so is his father, my son has been asking lots of questions about why we got a divorce. The only thing I told my son is that me and his father didn't agree on somethings and we both decided it would be best if we lived apart. I express to my son that we both love him to death and we did what we felt was best for him. I never let my son know about any of the arguments and disagreements that me and his father have to this day. My son understands that he has a mom and dad who love him and we have other people in our lives who have grown to love him as well. My best advice is to shield him from the negative things as much as possible and be honest with out making the other parent appear bad. Good luck and I know all will work out.

M., *hugs* to you. I know how hard this is. I was never married to my son's father, but we'd been together for 5 years, and it felt every bit the same.

You already said it yourself: Mommy and Daddy will always love him, they just don't love each other. He can still love you both, and he can still see you, hug you, play with you, and be your little boy. That will never change. The only thing that is changing is Mommy and Daddy's relationship. Sometimes grown-ups get into fights, and it's nobody's fault. Sometimes things just don't work out.

Kudos for the councelling, that's something I really wish I'd done. You're in for a big roller coaster ride of emotions, both yours and your son's. Hang in there, be open and honest with him, and with yourself. Keep us posted, and if you ever need to talk, we're always here.

*hugs*
J.

I am sorry to hear your going through a hard time. I would check into your health insurance. Some employers have an Employee Assistance phone line through their health insurance. My husband and I have had to use it a few times for things going on in our lives and its been a very helpful tool. We called the number and spoke to a counselor who was able to get us some advice as far as who could help us - and we had 4 counseling sessions free of charge. If you have a health insurance provider I would check with them or your employer if there is an employee assistance line and perhaps someone there could help.

I wish you the best.
C.

I am a child of divorce. My parents divorced when I was 3. Let me tell you, they didn't handle it as well as they could have.

First, if you feel that you can't deal with it anymore and all that the children see/hear is the two of you fighting, that is so much more detrimental than divorce. My earliest memory is my mother and father fighting about custody and child support. My mother would refuse to let my father see me when she would get mad at him.

Which brings me to my second point, the fight is between you and him, please keep it that way. It is so hard to do, I know. I have tried to adhere to that with my daughter's father. No matter how mad I get at him, no matter how far behind he is on child support, he is ALWAYS allowed to see our daughter. I actually sometimes have to fight with him to see or even call her but I am willing to because he means a lot to her. I will also go to great lengths so she can see him. It may suck now, but I know someday it will mean the world to her that I did that for her. I also make sure I consult him on parenting issues and we present a united front. Children are very quick to pit parents against each other if one doesn't give them their way.

Third, try not to say anything bad about their father in front of them. I know it is going to be hard but it puts them in the position of feeling they have to choose sides. It is also hard to hear something disparaging about a parent, true or not.

Last, always reassure your children you love them no matter what and that this in no way is their fault. And make sure you back up that with your actions. Parents don't realize sometimes it is all fine and good to say the words, but if the actions aren't there, emotional damage could happen.

Good luck! And if you need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me. I completely understand where you are coming from. Just remember that your children come first and foremost!

I have been there.... You just have to remember you and your 5 year old will be happier and healthier in a stable home.. Kids believe it or not will adjust. You just have to reassure your child that nothing will change except for living arrangements. Kids are pretty durable and they will come around.. Trust me...I have two daughters and I left their dad... It is hard but everything always works itself out.. Good Luck... If you need to talk just send me a message.. A.

As the others have already responded, do not let your child get involved in any way. Discuss anything having to do with separating, away from your child. It's very hard for children to hear these conversations and arguments. I was a child of a bitter, nasty divorce where my mom put us right in the middle, and continues to do so now that I'm 30. I highly suggest counseling for your son while the three of you are going through this. He may feel more comfortable telling his feelings to an impartial person. He won't want to hurt either you or his dad. He will need constant reassurance during, and well after the divorce. I have a stepson who's 6, and we share custody of him with his mom. We all have a very positive relationship, but he will usually ask questions about the divorce every year he ages. It's as though as he gets older, he just needs to process it again to understand. Be really open to your son's questions. Explain the divorce in a positive way for him, so he has no reason to choose sides. Hope some of this helps. Take care of yourself.

Are you absolutely sure you can't work this out with counseling? I am probably not going to say anything that you haven't already said to yourself. I hope that you can work it out for the benefit of your children. Perhaps a trial separation? My husband and I have been through alot in our 20 years together, including alcohol problems and stepchildren issues. We somehow kept trucking through it. Don't get me wrong, there were some extremely ugly moments and times in those years. I hope that you will give every opportunity to working it out for the sake of your family. Afterall, if you don't get along with him now, will you during visititation? Birthday parties? That animosity pains children. Hopefully, if divorce is the route you go the two of you can be civil to each other for the benefit of your kids. Good luck to you and big hugs sent your way. Take care of yourself!

My husband and I have been married for 25 year now. We had a big argument this weekend about money again. I started to argue back at him and I wasn't getting anyware. So I decided just to hear him out. I sat there listening to him for over 5 minutes and he finally stoped. He asked me what I thought he ment and I said I can understand why your mad. He finally cooled off. I feel no defence is the best defence when someone get so angry. They get there feeling out, and they have lost there steem. I try not to bring it up again so I dont have to hear it again. No matter what kind of relationship we have we will always argue. I just try to be patient. This always seems to be the women job to be patient. As time goes on I try to figure out how to deal with my husband. Different things works with different people. I think counseling would be good. I went through counseling with my husband about 10 years ago. It helped for a little while. If you can get encouradgement from other people to will help you through these hard time is good and it will help you stay strong. I dont believe in divorce because I believe we carry our problem with us to the next relationship. My children give me advice on how to talk with my husband, sometimes they see things I don't. My husband acts different with the children than with me. So If there's a problem with a car or something the children tell him. Ask other mother or friends how they deal with there husbands. I have a close friend who has the same problem and it feels good just to get my feeling out. I dont know If I helped at all but I wish you strength and patience. If you get a counseler make sure you are comfortable with him/her or it wont help you much.
V.

Hi M.,

Did you know no marriage will work unless it goes by the best marriage manual? We sure don't get classes in High school on how to enjoy our future marriage, do we? Ephesians 5 is specifically for how to keep a marriage together. The husband has his areas he's responsibile for and the wife has her areas. Please...check it out. Did you know when couples have children and they divorce...they set the stage for THEIR children to not be able to avoid divorce. (Know any like that?) Do you want that? I've been married for 26.5 years. We've had 10 children. My husband pastors & has started two gospel-preaching churches. As the years go by...if I did not have the Scriptures to make me do many times what I wouldn't naturally WANT to do, I too would think it easier (and it is in some ways) to just give up and quit. The strength to raise all our children for a total of 35 or 40 years by the time the last one is a young adult wears on both of us...yet "they that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31)(then the chorus concludes) 'teach me, Lord, teach me, Lord, to wait' (upon the Lord).

Do you do much singing of profitable, truthful songs around the home? A few years back, whenever my husband and I were strongly tempted to argue over something (usually it wasn't anything of much consequence, but sometimes); one or the other of us would start singing a Christian chorus. It's impossible to be mad and sing at the same time. Sometimes we'd sing "He's still workin' on me, to make me what I ought to be. Took Him just a week to make the moon & stars,... Jupiter and Mars, but He's still workin' on me..."

Tell me, M., do you go to church as a family? a gospel-preaching church (where they preach what Jesus said in John 3:3 "Except a man be born again, he CANNOT see the kingdom of God."? That's the gospel, the good news, of how Jesus suffered through Calvary and the cross because of your sins and mine (do you sin? I sure do.). He died tho' He was perfect, was buried and "hallelujah" He rose again and had victory over even death. So, do you think He has power to put and keep your marriage together?

WOW, I just saw what Twin Cities' suburb in MN you live in. That's not far from the gospel-preaching church my husband and I met at while he finished seminary there in 1980. Call up Fourth Baptist Church...find it in the phone book. They will be glad to help you and then attend there. They have a midweek service on Thursday nights.

First & foremost...thank the Lord for your present marriage mess; as God can use it to bring you to Himself. If you've never become a Christian....no one is born a Christian and no one is baptized into Christianity. John 3:16 tells it plainly, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM, should not perish (be separated from God for eternity), but have ever lasting life." Don't you want that for all three (five) of you? Has anyone ever cared for your soul enough to ask you if you've ever been saved?

All of this will do far more than put your marriage together..."seek the Lord and live eternally". Email me any time...I go visit my mother every couple of weeks in Mounds View...I'd be glad to meet you at a restaurant & visit together. You need to go to the best marriage manual. I did, do and will 'til I die.

Make sure to take your counseling very seriously. Don't allow him to be involved with anymore of the fighting. Make sure to tell him what you have said and make moves to showing him that. Let him know that it is best for everyone so that you can get along in the future and all be happy. They know and feel more then we think and as long as both of you strive for what is best for him there will be no hurt involved. Never play him against his father and never use him as leverage. If you are in the Madison area a great attorney to contact would be Ginger Murray at Lawton & Cates.

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