Mommy is moving out
April 23, 2014 9:07 AM Subscribe
What are some of the better ways to tell a young child that Mom and Dad are splitting?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Looking for suggestions for approaches and specific phrasing for talking to a five year old child about their parents splitting, specifically a situation in which one parent is moving to another house nearby and the child will visit there but still primarily live in the original house with the parent who has been the primary caregiver, has more interest in parenting, and has more energy, time, and patience for parenting.
What we have in mind so far is something along the lines of Mom and Dad are not getting along great so they are going to live separately, or Mom wants more time alone so she's going to have another place where she sleeps (just for the record, the latter approach was Mom's idea). We are interested in hearing other possible approaches that might be better.
We will be talking to a qualified therapist soon about these matters but I felt it would also be valuable to get input on AskMeFi.
Personally I'm not a big fan of using the D word with the child because although the child is not familiar with the term "divorce", I feel it risks putting a label on the situation in a way that could possibly convey a negative connotation or feel like a stigma to the child (although inevitably as the child gets a little older the D word will find its way into the child's vocabulary and frame of reference). I prefer an approach that is more along the lines of "there are all kinds of families and this is what ours is going to look like now" so that it feels more like this is just another way of doing things and it's OK and will still be fine and is not a big deal.
By way of background information, it's not a situation where there has been open warfare, but there's certainly been a major lack of open affection and closeness between the parents. The child has lots of attention, is happy, social, bright, mature, confident, and resilient, and is very aware of the love both parents have for the child, and it will be expressed to the child in some way (is direct the best?) that this split is not the child's fault.
Thank you for any suggestions and ideas for dealing in the best way possible with a challenging situation where a young child's well-being is at stake.