Question (from Facebook community): “How do you deal with the kids’ questions {about what’s going on in our family and/or the separation/divorce}?” 

I remember hearing a story of a child who asked his father where he came from. His dad was flustered but gave him the whole birds-and-the-bees talk. The child, mortified, said, “I just meant from what state?”  

So, the answer to this question depends on a couple things. First, how old are your children? Only you can determine what you feel they are ready to hear and know. And, how bad is your situation? If it’s fairly cut and dry, then it’s easier to share the facts, but if things are crazy, you will absolutely need to run through a filter what you tell your kids about your situation. 

When my kids were pre-teens, I felt it was time to discuss one key factor playing out in our family, because it was affecting them directly and would affect them into their futures. I didn’t rush into it and I got lots of counsel on whether to do it, how to do it, and what to say. I told their father of my decision and it didn’t go over well.  In fact, I look back on this decision – one that I wouldn’t change – as the beginning of the end.  I had felt the Spirit lay it on my heart and the counsel I got showed a consensus, so I moved forward without his permission. It was a very delicate subject but I broached it with much prayer and thought and gentleness and they handled the new knowledge beautifully.  

Since that time, I’ve had to bring up other difficult things now and then. They do not know the daily details of the still-ensuing chaos because they don’t need to know everything, but there are some things I do tell them.  

Here’s what we need to remember. Our kids aren’t stupid. A child can sense when there is something wrong in their family. Children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for. There have been times I’ve shared something and they’ll look at me like, “Duh…we totally knew that…”  

And yet, though kids are perceptive, they can also be naïve. I recently revealed something pretty important and my kids’ eyes grew wide. They had no idea what was really going on. And I needed them to know. I need them to know that Mom isn’t simply being overdramatic or overprotective all the time without just cause. I need them to be aware of their reality. I need them to learn how to protect themselves, emotionally and physically and spiritually. I need them to know what is emotional health and emotional craziness.  

If your child is asking you questions about his other parent or about your marriage or divorce, take that as a cue. Either you’re going to inform him of the truth and help him shape what he’s thinking and feeling, or he’s going to fill up the silences with his imaginings. So, take their ages into consideration, pray for wisdom and the right words, and then answer as appropriately and authentically as you can. 

And if your child isn’t asking, that doesn’t mean she’s not wondering.  I’ll still occasionally say to my kids, out of the blue, “Just a reminder that you can ask me anything about God, life, marriage, what’s going on with our family situation, relationships, friendships, sex, whatever…”  They’ll roll their eyes perhaps but I believe they are relieved every time I remind them that I have nothing to hide and the door of my heart will always be open to them.
Remember, we are who they are learning how to live life from, what is right and wrong, what is healthy and what is not-so-healthy. You do not have to tell your children everything, but you should be telling them something.  

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6-

If this post helped you, “Moving On as a Christian Single Mom” is for you, found here.