Q&A: Telling my children the truth of our separation

Question:

I recently became a single parent when my husband left me and moved in with another woman. My children are confused because their dad has been lying to them about where he’s living and the reasons for our separation. What should I tell them?

Answer: We’re sorry to hear about this painful situation. While your desire to protect your children’s innocence is admirable, it’s important to be honest with them about what’s going on—as honest and as forthright as you can be while taking their age and maturity into account.

Our counsellors recommend that you sit down with your children and, using age-appropriate language, tell them that Mummy and Daddy haven’t been getting along and that Daddy has made some bad choices that are hurting the family. Resist the temptation to badmouth your spouse—you don’t want to alienate him even further from the children. If they ask about the other woman, give them a straightforward answer and explain that it makes you very sad that their father has moved in with her.

Most importantly, reassure them of your love and make it clear that you understand how painful this situation is for them. Encourage them to be open about their sadness and anger, but don’t permit them to engage in aggressive or destructive behaviour. Writing and journaling are good emotional outlets for older children. Younger children sometimes find it helpful to express their feelings by drawing pictures.

Don’t hesitate to contact our Family Support Services at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my for insights specific to your situation.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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