Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

"Our children don't know that their aunt and uncle are divorced. We have an upcoming family gathering and I need some suggestions about what to tell my 5-year-old. We want to be honest with him, but we don't want him to worry about the same thing happening to us."

A. It's best for you to tell your son about the divorce before the family gathering so that he can ask his questions now. Begin by simply telling him that his aunt and uncle are divorced. You'll probably need to explain what divorce is and that it's sad for everyone involved. There's no need to go into the details of the divorce. Often the explanation that these two people didn't love each other any more and thought they would get along better if they didn't live together is sufficient. Be careful not to say anything judgmental about either the aunt or uncle. Your son is too young to understand the complexity of these situations and will only be upset and confused by the blame you may assign to people he loves.

Once you're sure he understands the basics, ask him how he feels about what you talked about. Assure him that his feelings of sadness and confusion are normal and let him know you feel the same way. Ask him to pray with you for the family, especially his aunt and uncle and children they have.

If he asks about your marriage, reassure him that you and your spouse are committed to each other. Tell him about some of the practical things you do to nurture your marriage. For example, you can say, "We work at our marriage by talking out our problems and going out on Friday date nights." If the conversation gets too intense for him, break it up into two or three shorter conversations over a period of a few days.

Follow your conversation with a family game or physical activity to let out any stress he might be feeling. Remember that we cannot protect our children forever from the realities of life. It's likely that he's heard about divorce from his classmates. This is your chance to teach empathy, support to those in need, and gratitude for the family that you are.