What Do I Say, Where Do I Start?

Updated on September 21, 2009
M.S. asks from El Paso, TX
13 answers

Hoping to get feedback from all you mamas! Just recently my husband & I seperated (going on 2 mos) and I am back at my parents' house (UGH!)and my kids are starting to ask questions. I have a very curious 3 1/2 son and a 24 month old daughter who repeates everything brother says. They want to know why Daddy has his house & we're w/grama. Why can't we stay w/Daddy, will Daddy come home after work? What do I say that will satisfy their curiosity? I went to my local library to check out books w/age appropriate info & to my surprise, THEY WERE OUT! no books, no video--nada! I know there are a lot of single moms out there (my hat off to you, this is tough!). Will you PLEASE help me? All iI tell them is that Mommy & Daddy are on a "time out". cheesy, i know, but that's all i've got.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Little children are very impressionable, so I can understand you wanting to make sure you do the best thing for them. My children were older when their father and I separated. Do the children see their father very often? If they do, you and your husband should sit down together and talk about what you want to say to the children. If you tell them one thing and he tells them another, that will only confuse them.

Overall, I'd say that you want to put the message in terms they will understand, but you don't have to go into details. Telling them that you and their daddy love them is important. Telling them that either you or daddy may seem sad sometimes is also important. You don't want to create a sense that everyone must mask their true feelings. Children are very sensitive. It's ok for you to be sad, and it's ok for them to know you are sad.

Tell them that you and their daddy have decided that you need to live apart for a little while. Tell them that it's something that has to do with being all grown up and that it is something that is hard. Tell them no one did anything wrong. No one was "bad".

I think the important thing is to communicate in their language. Reassure them, let them know they aren't to blame, and then help them understand.

I don't know if that helps you any, but I wish you the best of luck.

Take care.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

M., I honestly dont know what to tell you. I have been through this. But not as much. My oldest had just turned 2 before we left my ex husband. (she is now 3) My ex is military so him being gone all the time wasnt a big thing to her. He had just gotten back from a deployment about 3 months before I finally decided to walk. So she still didnt know him bery well....he was never home before the deployment either for him to get to know him. She asked about him sometimes, would tell her daddy is in GA because that where he lives and works. Then I would get her entertained with something else other than that subject. Then it wouldnt come up again for a long time. It stopped coming up for me because my husband never called her. I was 4 months preg when I left my ex. Our divorce was final this past June. (he had me served 3 weeks before my due date, needles to say I was enduced to to stress he put me through over the months and the papers was the icing on the cake...after telling me he wouldnt file, if we were to divorce, it would be on me) The baby doesnt know him at all. He hasnt met her. She will be 7 months on the 16th. And he hasnt seen our oldest since we left....which will be a yr on the 17th. He has other things more important to him, like his 19 yr old girlfriend and his truck. But I dont mind, I have my girls. It does hurt me to the fact I can see it hurts my oldest. She has gone from wanting to talk to him, to refusing to talk to him, to saying she doesnt like him (literally), to talking to him again over the past yr. She sometimes says things like my daddy is coming to get me (which kills me) But I know that its because she is in PreSchool and other little ones talk about thier dads. She says my daddy loves me (occasionaly), which I encourage....even though the proof on that I am still waiting for from him.
its been an intresting change for us. But not to much of one because him not being an active part in our lives other than the deployment, thats why I left him, along with cheating and more. He was never home, never did anything with our daughter. Our 2nd was unexpected after the deployment. I will say I went from being a stay at home mom to a single working mom. And I am doing pretty good with all of it. I wish you luck momma. I don't know if I helped you. Because I am sure our situations are a bit different. But I hope I gave you something...if anything I give you something to prepare for depending on how things go with you and your husband.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I agree with Cheryl, I don't think saying you & daddy are in timeout is cheesy at all. I actually think a child that age can relate to that better than you trying to explain that you were having problems. Maybe to help them understand why he is at the house & you aren't, you might could add that since you & daddy are big people you both had to have a big place for timeout, (a house) & that's why ya'll are at grandmaw's & he is still at your home.
On the other hand the mom that said do not speak negative about your husband to your children nor in the presence of your children, is absolutely correct!
They will hold that against you when they get older.
If you marriage isn't reconciled, (& hopefully it will be) if at all possible you & your husband should try to work through this & at least remain friends for your children's best interest. It will be healthier for them mentally than to have parents that cannot get along.
I was married 18 yrs my first time & I told my ex I could be his best friend or his worst enemy & that was a decision he would need to make. But that because of the children, friends would be the adult thing to do. It took him a little while but he fell right in there. NO we are NOT best friends (i just used it as a figure of speech to get my point across to him) but we do get along. It takes alot of gritting teeth at times & yes we do have words at times, but not infront of the children.
My children because of our decision to "get along with each other" do not have issues with our divorce. Yes im sure it hurt them, but they have thrived because we kept a "friendship"
When we first split up, he talked bad about me to my children,(lies I must add) and it caused them to rebel against me for a short period, but I never talked bad about their dad & never told them he was abusive to me, until they were grown (which they now are).
Im not telling you what to do, im just making a suggestion that has worked well for our children mentally through a divorce. We both are remarried & we do not have issues with each other's spouse. That too has to be a decision for the best interest of our children. It isn't becsause "we like or dislike" the other spouse, its an agreement we made that we would not let anyone interfere with the decision we made to keep a healthy atmosphere for our children, (no matter how much we like nor dislike each other or each other's spouse) even though they are all age 18 & above now.We still hold to this & will......one day we will have grandchildren & we owe the same to them :)
Best if luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from College Station on

I like how Erica says it. Remember, too, that your problems should not be your children's problems. Don't say bad things about your husband where they can hear it. Do remind them that you love them and you are sure Dad loves them in his own way.

The new living arrangements are because of differences you two are having not something they did.

Sounds like you are doing a great Mom job!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

I'm sorry that you are in this position. I know it is really tough because I've been there. My now exhusband has not handled the situation in the best interest of the children so I have really struggled with things that have been said and done. But thank God we have gone through it. My advice would be to be honest, age appropriately so, with the kids. In my case, he walked out on us twice and left to live with his mom. So when those questions came up I answered truthfully and redirected them for answers to dad. He would avoid it and then say it was my fault. The truth always comes out! My kids are 6 and 3 now and although it is still tough on them, I'm trusting God for them and for me and our future. If there is a possibility to reconcile, I would encourage you to do it! Divorce / separation does not fix anything in fact it just creates more problems and every one loses but the kids especially so. I'm not saying stay together for the sake of the kids but that is a starting point to be a better wife/husband for their sake and stay together!! Many churches have counseling and Divorce Care is a good support system too! God bless you and hang in there.



answers from San Antonio on

I don't think your response is "cheesy" at all. I think it's age appropriate and within their scope. Don't lie but remember, at that age they don't think in abstracts. Reinforce how much you and daddy love them and don't make yourself or dad the bad guy.
Be gentle with yourself. You have to take care of yourself to care for the little ones. You are doing a good job or they wouldn't feel free to ask you about daddy and what's going on.



answers from San Antonio on

You have gotten some good advise and all I can tell you is do not lie to your children. You don't have to tell them the why's etc. but I would tell them that Mommy and Daddy have decided to live apart but for gosh sakes always tell them that you and Daddy love them very much and make sure they understand that they will still see Mommy and Daddy and the best thing you can do for your kids is for you and your husband to get along even if you do not get back together and do this for the sake of the children. You will set an example for them on how you handle this situation and just because you two no longer get along doesn't mean you make your children part of that. It is not fair to them. Show them that they are still the most important things in both of your lives and you and your husband must communicate even if you don't get back together. Stay focused that you two will have to get along some how for the sake of the children and you will be a part of each others lives until these children are 18 like it or not. So get along and don't fight in front of them. Show that you can still have respect for one another. Your children will be much better for it. Good Luck to you.



answers from Houston on

It will be okay - sometimes being apart is better for the family as a whole.

Remember to breathe! and rely on friends and family for support. Venting is always good with a girlfriend.

Telling your little ones that you are on a time out is okay - their little minds are able to process that. If you continue to stay seperated and move into your own house you will again find the words to explain it to them so they can understand.

Breathe.....you'll do fine.



answers from College Station on

You need to be honest with them. Mommy and Daddy are having some problems and are taking at time out to work it out. Let them know that they can call Daddy anytime they want (make sure that is okay with Daddy, too). Make sure they get to see Daddy often.

Good Luck!



answers from Houston on

My heart goes out to you, and I don't really have anything to tell you that will help, but I am praying for you! I don't know if you would be open to this but our church has some support groups for separation. I would think that there are people in there that are asking the same questions you are. Here is the link http://www.hfbc.org/supportgroup

I hope this helps. Take Care



answers from Houston on

I havn't read your responses but thought I would chime in. I was in your position a couple of years ago and my son was about 3 yrs old. As your kids he had lots of questions & didn't understand. Kids understand alot & sense alot. I sat down with him and explained to him that Mommy & Daddy don't live together anymore but we both loved him very much. I told him he would still see his daddy and he could call his daddy anytime he wanted. I told him that everything was going to be ok and we were still a family. It was hard because I was going thru a tough time and had to put on the happy face. I kept my son very busy & kept my promises of letting him talk to his dad. It was hard because daddy would hang up on him if he couldn't understand him so hopefully you don't have to deal with that. Try very hard to get along with your ex & keep things calm. It will all be ok.



answers from Houston on

I agree with what most of the other posters have said. I just wanted to add that I think it's important to let them know that this separation is no one's fault. I was 13 when my parents separated, so I knew pretty much everything that was going on and that it all had to do with my father's drinking and that no one else was to blame. However, my younger brothers told me recently that they went through a period of thinking that maybe it was their fault that our parents couldn't hold their marriage together. I felt really terrible about this b/c if they had just spoken to me I would've reassured them. But they held it all in and never said anything to anyone. So just make sure that you reiterate to the children that you and their dad are having a hard time getting along--which sometimes happens with grown-ups--but it is no one's fault and you both still love them very much and you will always be there for them. They need love and reassurance more than anything else right now. Good luck!



answers from Waco on

You are in a difficult position, and it is additionally difficult because it seems that you and your husband may consider reconciling, in which case the answer you give your children is different from the one that I gave mine.

As I knew my ex and I would not get back together, I was able to tell my daughters (then 6 and 3) that we made each other unhappy when we lived together so we would live in separate houses always. This approach worked as well as any, but I think that your use of the phrase "time out" is entirely appropriate for your situation, implying as it does that you need to be apart for a while. Should you decide to divorce, however, you will need to use words that indicate that the separation is permanent. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck. Being a single parent is not as hard as it may appear, especially if you have someone who supports you.

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