Explaining Divorce To A 6 Years Old

This post is technically part 2 of what happened on my son’s graduation day.

Things were doing well on the graduation ceremony.

Until the parents were allowed to come on the stage and take pictures with the students. Then all hell breaks loose! Literally!

Alex was all smile, so happy to take pictures with his Dad even pulled out his signature silly faces to be captured on my camera. All that was gone by the time I got to his side.

My heart whispered “Please no!” but it was too late. As soon as I look at him in the eyes, the waterworks started. I kneel down in front of him and asked: “What’s wrong Pumpkin?

I am so happy, Mommy.” He said quietly and honestly but failed to stop the tears.

Looking at him like that. My little boy…swept by with so much emotion I had to fight hard not to cry myself. His Dad tried to distract him up by asking if he wants to spend the night at his Dad’s house.

Yes but Mommy has to come too.” He replied between his tears

I kneel back down and tried to calm him up.

We can’t do that, Alex. Remember now you have two homes. One with Daddy and one with Mommy.” I hold his hands as he sobs. “You are so lucky to have to homes, baby.

That didn’t help much.

He then asked for us to take pictures together, the three of us.

We granted his wish while still trying to get him to smile.

He tried hard to stop but I can see the confused look in his eyes, I can feel his pain and I wish I could take all of those away…to protect him, my baby.

Mommy, I want to split myself in two so I can be with you and be with Daddy too.” that felt like a punch that stings so deep. I tried my best to gather my scattered mind and comfort him and how I wish his Dad would say something too to help me out but no. His Dad chooses silence.

We sat down for a bit, he calmed down; had some water and we all went outside the theater.

My mind was going a hundred miles per hour sitting in Mr. X’s car with a tired boy asleep in my lap as we cut through thick Saturday night traffic going to his house.

Heartbreaking is an understatement to see your son cried like that and clearly still hoping his parents would get back together again.

I need to talk to him, I realized that. It’s been three years, I’ve apologized to him and I thought he’s fine. I thought he ‘gets it’ by now. But clearly what happened on that stage showed differently.

That night, I tossed and turned on my empty bed trying to figure out how to help my boy understands our situation.

The next day, I got to talk with Dan. He told me to just try to explain the situation again with A and one day he will eventually wrap his mind around the concept and understand it.

And that’s what I did not long after Alex got home from his Dad’s house. We were in our room, we sat down on the floor and I asked him “Alex, can I tell you something?” he looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “Tell me, Mommy.”

So I told him how Mommy and Daddy now both have different lives, we followed our own happiness and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean he has to choose between us. I told him he doesn’t need to split himself in two because he can go to Daddy anytime he wants to.

Do you understand that, pumpkin” I placed my hand on his skinny knees and looking at him in the eyes.

So, Daddy is married to Tante** now?” I nodded “Yes because Mommy and Daddy are already divorced. We’ve been divorced for a long time now and Tante is Daddy’s new wife. Do you know what divorced means?

What Mommy?

It means when two people that were married before don’t live in the same house anymore and go their own ways. That’s what Mommy and Daddy did. Daddy chooses his own happiness and Mommy does the same thing. I am very happy living here with you, Oma, Opa, and Oom* Danny.

And when people get married they wear a gold ring?” he grabs my right hand “You don’t have a gold ring, Mommy?

No, I don’t, baby because I’m not married.

Daddy has a gold ring.

Yes, because Daddy is married to Tante now and that’s OK. I’m happy for him. They have your cute little baby brother now, remember?” I smiled genuinely.

Will you get married again, Mommy?

Maybe I will, I don’t know yet. Will that be ok with you tho?

His face lit up and he said “I think you will marry Oom Dan! Yes, you will marry him” and there’s the cutest faith a little boy could master shining from his face.

Oooh really????” I teased him “Do you like Oom Dan?

Yes, Mommy I like him. He’s funny!

My heart got swollen to receive my little man’s seal of approval so what did I do? I pulled that skinny boy and hugged him tight then tickled him.

If you’re divorced how do you explained what divorce means to your children?

*Tante = Auntie
*Oom = Uncle

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30 thoughts on “Explaining Divorce To A 6 Years Old

  1. Alison Reply

    Aw, his face in that picture!
    He has a good heart. You have a good heart. All he wants is for his parents to be happy, and now he understands that you both chose your own way, just not with each other. You’re doing a great job, Maureen!

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Thank you Alison! He asked me the other day if it’s ok to cry when you are happy and I told him yes, yes of course. I think he have a much better understanding of our situations now.

  2. Saundra Rohn Reply

    Oh daughter, you have a gift of being able to explain and also so much love for Alex♥
    Now, I understand his look with you in that picture. Such a wise grandson we have with a heart bigger than I ever imagined it to be. He will be just fine with your guidance and knowing how much he is loved by both his mommy and daddy.
    Love you so much.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Thank you Mom.
      It’s so heartbreaking at first because I can see his confusion, his pain and I do not wish that on him ever but it’s our reality. I’m happy now he understand that Daddy and Mommy is happy in our own ways and we all wants him to be happy and he doesn’t have to take sides.

      Love you Mom 🙂

  3. Ria Reply

    Your boy has a sensitive soul and heart Maureen. And again I’m salute you for being a solo stronger parent to him, it’s not easy. I honestly don’t know how you do it. So, keep doing what you’re doing now, you are raising a wonderful boy. Happy week-end darling. xx

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      He really is, Ria. He have a very sensitive soul & heart and I am so thankful for that.
      Thank you for your kind words and support, Ria.
      Hope you had a great weekend.

  4. CJ Reply

    I was much older when this happened to me, and while I can’t really offer anything on the ‘how to’ and can’t imagine there is a scenario that makes it all clear and understood- but I can say the fact that you care so much about this, and are so concerned with his well being WILL be communicated, and plays a bigger role than you can imagine.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      CJ, thank you for sharing your point of view and your kind words.

  5. Kim@Co-Pilot Mom Reply

    It must have been heartbreaking to see him struggle on his graduation day. I think the way you discussed it with him was empathetic and understanding. He sounds like he wants happiness for everyone. 🙂

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      It was heartbreaking and painful to see him that way, Kim but now I am glad for the given opportunity to explain things better to him. Before, he was still too little so all I told him is Mommy and Daddy can’t live together anymore. Now he seems to understand it better and yes he wants everyone to be happy. 🙂
      Thank you.

  6. The Dose of Reality Reply

    My parents divorced when I was 9. I really wish one of my parents had said the comforting and wonderful words you spoke to your son. (My mom took every opportunity to down talk my father and my father didn’t really talk to me at all about anything emotional-just his way)

    Ceremonies or occasions like that were always the hardest. Everyone was gathered and it just felt so odd. Even when I was okay every other day, those kinds of days were always hard. But…

    Nobody in my family was trying to get along. Nobody would have taken one picture like you did just to make me happy. You are obviously doing all you can and saying all you can to help your sweet son find his way through this. You’re doing a great job. He is lucky to have a mom that puts his feelings first and works so hard to make uncomfortable situations comfortable for him. –Lisa

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Lisa, thank you so very much for sharing your story. It must’ve been so hard growing up like that. It hasn’t been this easy but I realized if I or any of my family members – who righteously so got so pissed about what happened – and talk bad about my son’s father it would be very damaging to my son. My son doesn’t deserves that. I keep telling my family that no matter what happened, he is still the father and my son will adore and love him for that.

      Feelings were hurt badly when I went through my divorce but now I think we all had come to a better place where pointing fingers will not do us any good at all. I still can’t bring myself to talk to the new wife or even imagine being in the same room as she is – maybe one day I will – but for now, I am happy my son feels better about the whole situation and with time he will understands more as he gets older.

      Thank you again, Lisa.

  7. M I N D Y Reply

    Kudos to you, Oyen! Ga gampang jadi orang tua, apalagi single mom kaya jij. But you’re doing so well and A is a wonderful boy. I wish my parents told me the way you told A when me and my brother found out that they were divorcing when I was 7y.o. xoxo

  8. Single Mom in the South Reply

    Oh that sweet face.

    You did well, Mama. My children were very young when we divorced, too young to remember, but my daughter had similar issues when she was around the same age. I took her to a counselor and the counselor assured me it was developmentally natural when they start school and are bombarded by “family’ for them to have questions and mourn, in a way, that their family is different from others.

  9. Amanda Jillian Reply

    This is a tricky one for me, I don’t have to explain it yet since they are little still, but I was never married to either of my kids dads, honestly I doubt I will ever get married just cause I don’t feel like it’s the right thing for me anymore. Shrugs I’ll figure it out.

  10. Michelle Reply

    Oh, I am so sorry! That must have been so difficult and hard to see your son struggling. But you handled it amazingly! He is lucky to have such a wonderful mom!

  11. Rina Reply

    Don’t know what to say but my heart sank reading this story. I think (and praying) that A will eventually understand and find happiness within the two families, especially may God granted his wish for om D 😉

  12. Jackie Reply

    You have a sweet and sensitive little boy, Maureen. I can’t imagine what a difficult situation it is for you to have to try and explain this to him… I’m divorced too but my kids were older and I “think” that they understood it. I hope they did…

  13. Cheena Reply

    Hey..I just want to tell you that you have a STRONG and INTELLIGENT son. And I’m sure that he got that from you. Always be happy)

  14. Ashlee Reply

    My heart goes out to that sweet little boy and to you, mama. I had a baby early so me and my son’s father aren’t even married. We’re still dating, but struggling. We both want to keep working on our relationship and one day get married, but the thought of being a single mom crosses my mind on a daily basis.. My worries are what you included in this post. But you definitely have one thing right, he is VERY lucky to have two homes, both with loving parents.

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  16. Family Law West Palm Beach Reply

    Hi Maureen, thank you for sharing your experience and story with your readers. Your insights and honesty really touched me and I hope the struggles with your son’s understanding about the divorce ease over time.

  17. Bibika Reply

    I nearly cried at your post. It’s probably the most heartbreaking part of divorce. The partners will manage to find their way out of the bad marriage and continue their lives easily, or not so easily. But the thing is both of them are grown up people and they can cope with divorce. But kids, they are so fragile and the process, the preps and the after divorce life is so confusing to them. They love their parents. both of them and the pain of having your parents fight or stop loving each other, is almost unbearable.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      It is confusing for the kids, Bibika. My boy still ask me why I am not with his father even now. I have to constantly telling him that he is loved, that we as his parents love him no less and it is normal for him to wants to have a whole family unit just like his friends. There are definitely good days and there are bad days but we keep on pushing forward.

      Thank you for your kind words

  18. Opi Reply

    i read a few posts of yours tagged under ‘divorce’ and found myself crying (again). you are right, every divorce can’t be the same, each would surely be different. it’s still not easy for me now. i thought this kind sadness only breaks heart, but i ache to bone. the pain is shivering. and when my kid asked me the whys, that pain goes multiplied.

    it’s almost two years now since my divorce, i’m trying to move on. most of times i succeed, some other times i just have to repeat and repeat (i refuse to call it ‘fail’). this too shall pass, i know. but oh the road to ‘i got by’ is actually quite long.

    i’m a bit relieved this afternoon though –after reading your posts. thank you Maureen :).

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Opi, how I wish I could reach into the screen and give you the biggest reassuring hugs!
      Now that I have been divorced for 4 years and was separated for a year before so overall it’s been 5 years, I can honestly say that divorce felt like you are being broken to the ground, to pieces to be rebuild again. The whole ‘rebuilding’ process is really so hard…it takes years and so much tears.

      As for the questions from the kid, mine still asked occasionally and what I come to realize is they just wants their “love tank” to be full. Mine just asked me a few weeks ago after he got back from his Dad’s house. I had to explain to him why again and tell him now he is lucky to have 2 homes with people that love him. He looked at me, smile and then walked away to play by himself. He was satisfied with the answer. He felt love and secured. This also takes time to manage. In the first few years I can so relate to how you feel when they asked.

      Please be gentle with yourself, Opi. This is all a process. If you feel like crying then cry! Never denied yourself of feeling the pain and the hurt. Please know too that things does get better. If you need someone to talk to feel free to email me at anytime then we can take it from there? maureen@scoopsofjoycom

      Thank you for sharing your journey. You are a strong, woman!

  19. William P. Bratton Reply

    Heart touching story, Maureen! Honestly, I failed to stop the tears. I never want separation. I lovey my kids and always make them so happy. Thanks for the post!

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