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Reality Check: Dealing With Divorce

Q. How much should my husband and I tell our 2-year-old about our impending divorce?


A. Breaking up is hard to do, but explaining to a child why one of his parents isn't going to be around every day is even harder. At his age he's much too young to understand how complicated love  -- and falling out of it  -- can be. So keep the news of the breakup simple and tell him only what he wants  -- and needs  -- to know, which is how this affects him.

When Nick separated from his first wife, he told his son, then 2, that his parents didn't want to live together anymore and that Daddy was moving, but lucky kid, now he'd have two backyards to play in. And he told him over and over that he loved him, and that would never change.

Equally important was what Nick and his ex didn't say  -- how they felt about each other. They recognized that while assassinating each other's character might be a temporary salve for their own anger, it would only hurt their child's feelings  -- if not immediately, certainly as he got older.

You should figure out together what you'll say and how you'll say it, then stick to it, no matter how hard it gets.

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