For Men: What To Say To Your Kids

Divorce is a difficult time for everyone, especially young children. Pre-schoolers usually don’t understand what divorce is or why it is happening. Unfortunately, when a pre-schooler doesn’t know why something is happening they frequently use their imagination to make sense of things. This can mean believing that they have done something to make an event happen, even a divorce.
Talking with your pre-schooler about divorce can help ensure that they aren’t blaming themselves for the divorce, or as a child may see it, making Daddy (as is often the case) leave. It can also help alleviate other fears and make them feel as secure as possible. Here are some important topics to address with your pre-schooler if you won’t have daily custody:

1. It is not the child’s fault you’re leaving.

“It’s not your fault that I’m moving out. It’s only because of things that mommy and daddy did. You didn’t do, say or think anything wrong.” Pre-schoolers can be quick to assign themselves guilt for a divorce. They can also believe things happen because of what they wish for, so make sure they know their thoughts and feelings weren’t responsible.

2. The other parent won’t leave.

Even though mommy and daddy won’t live together anymore, you will always live with one of us. For now, you’ll be living with mommy, and she won’t be leaving.” One of pre-schoolers’ greatest fears is that if one parent is leaving, maybe the other will, too.

3. You both still love them.

Mommy and I both still love you, and always will, even if we can’t all live together anymore. That will never change.” Your pre-schooler needs to understand that the relationship with both parents will continue even though you’re moving out.

4. How much contact you’ll have with them.

We will chat on the phone every day and you can talk about whatever you want. You’ll see me every Wednesday afternoon and stay at my home on Saturday nights, too.” Invite your child to make contact with you whenever they want to and have them visit as soon as possible.

For excellent pointers on how to talk to kids of any age about divorce, pick up a copy of M. Gary Neuman’s “Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce.” Vicki Lansky’s “Divorce Book for Parents,” or Anthony Wolf’s “Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce ““ and “When Can I Get a Hamster?” are also great resources for divorcing parents.