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When Your Kid Asks About Divorce, Say This

I recently hosted a playdate that had us outside in our courtyard doing crafts with the neighbors. My boyfriend, Mark, was my fabulous co-host. We’ve been dating a year and a half, and he’s becoming a bigger part of our family with each passing day.

While I made monsters with toilet paper tubes and googly eyes, he manned the hot dogs on the grill. As Mark gently served my son, Jav, a plate, his pal, Cullen, turned to him and asked, “Are you Javier’s dad?”

There was a lightning-fast moment of tension (for me, anyway), as there is never an easy answer when kids start to ask questions about atypical families, divorce and the like. But Mark slid in with a winning response. “Nope, Jav already has a dad. He’s a great, great dad, and a really nice guy. I’m Jav’s friend, but I love him very, very much, too.” 

Mark is a sweetie—and now I know that my son knows it, too.  Because the second Mark slipped inside the house to grab some BBQ sauce, Jav turned to Cullen and said, “Mark was being really nice when he said that about my dad. He’s a very generous person. It’s why I like him so much.”

Whoa. As if it wasn’t enough that my beau had just blown me away, my son took it to a whole other level. Not only did Jav’s words speak volumes about the budding relationship between my boy and my boyfriend, it signaled to me that Jav has developed the empathy, the smarts and the heart to know when a person is going above and beyond just to make someone else feel better. I could have cried—but I was too busy beaming.

There is no perfect response to a question like that. Anyone who's divorced or separated can tell you it’s one of the stickiest situations involving our kids—how to handle the Qs that inevitably come—but my boys both found a way to handle it beautifully (and I didn’t have to say a word). Later that night I thanked Mark for saying nice things about Jav’s dad. “It was all true,” he said. “If someone asked [my ex-wife’s boyfriend] the same question, I’d hope he’d say the same about me.”

There you have it ladies and gents. In a world where so many split families spew petty complaints, I feel lucky to have found a guy who handles things with class and honesty—and to have a son who’s a perfect match.

Have you ever been in a sticky situation like this? How did you handle it? Mama wants to know!