Sunday, September 27, 2009

The D word

Brice was about five and during dinner he blurted out, “Mom, Dad, I hope you two never get adopted.”

William gave me the What the hell is this kid talking about? look.

But, somehow, I knew. “You mean divorced?”

“Right, divorced. I hope you two never get divorced.”

“I hope we don’t either,” I said.

And that was that.

Until about six months ago. Brice, now nine, had more questions and he wanted me to make promises. A friend was over with her three kids –all six kids were running wild. Brice wandered into the kitchen and asked. “Are you and Daddy ever going to get a divorce?”

Me: I don’t think so.

Brice: Do you promise?

Me: No

Brice: Promise. Promise. Promise.

Me: Honey, I can’t promise you that. Me and Daddy love each other tons. I can’t imagine living without him. But people do get divorced. I think it is important that Daddy and I love each other the best we can each and every day. So if things don’t work out we know we did our very best.

After he ran off to play, my friend said she totally disagreed with what I said.

It really made me wonder. Brice is my second child, but he’s so different from Ashton, it’s like I’m learning to parent all over again each time he reaches a new stage.

The truth is when kids ask us questions, the answers may change depending on our mood and what we have going on. But something about his voice, his worry, made me want to open up and be very honest with him. I don’t think William and I will split up. But I’ve had many friends and relatives break up ---for some it was a mutual “this isn’t working” kind of thing and others were completely taken by surprise.

But my friend was alarmed by the conversation I had with Brice.

My friend: I would never say that to a child. How can you tell him that you might get a divorce?

Me: I didn’t say we might get a divorce, I just didn’t promise that we wouldn’t.

My friend: When (the name of her two daughters) asked me, I told them they never had to worry about it.

For awhile, I wondered if I caused Brice to worry unnecessarily. (Do we EVER stop wondering if we’re damaging our children????)

Yesterday, my friend called. Her and her husband are separating. The reason she and the kids are moving is because of financial stress. I hope things turn around for them soon. I really love them both and think they make a great team.

What do you think? For those of you who are married (or in committed relationships / partnerships / living together) do your kids ask you about the D word?

What did you say?


  1. I think what you said was fine. What if you did split up in two years? Then he would say that you lied to him.

  2. The last thing you want to do is lie to your kids. Divorce breaks hearts but you can't guarantee that you won't change. My ex-best friend of many, many years left her family. She broke a lot of hearts. My Dad left when I was 14 and my parent's divorce was one of the ugliest things I've ever witnessed and I've seen a lot of ugly things in my life.

    You don't have any control over anyone but yourself. You can't guarantee that your partner won't change.
    All I can do is hope for the best. I'd love to keep our family together for another 18 years but if something happens and Hubby and I break up, it would be very hard but I/we'd all survive. And, I'd try to be more mature about it than my Mom was but I can't guarantee anything!!


  3. What you told your boy was right. I wouldnt worry about it too much. Do you really ever know what the future holds? How can you promise anything? You can only let them know that you love them.

  4. Well since my husband was married and divorced before I came along and my parents are divorced I think that at some stage it is going to come up and I think that honesty is the best policy. That said it has to be in age appropriate language and I think what you said was completely fine.

    Because you were honest he will feel he can ask you anything and get an honest answer. Kids are pretty perseptive and know if you are giving them the brush off. Better to have the lines of communication open and help them overcome their fears than lying to them!

    That's my opinion anyway for what its worth lol!!

  5. Wow. Short, but impactful post. That's a tough question. I think that you did right, by saying that you can't promise what you don't know. I can't imagine being w/o Adi and the kids, but the truth is, only God knows what the future holds.

    What if it were to happen? Kids hold onto promises from us like candy in their pockets. The best thing I think is to assure them that no matter what happens, your love for them is always forever.

  6. BTW-I just tweeted your question. I hope you get more feedback.

  7. Personally I think you answered it perfectly. When my son was just about 5 he saw pictures of his dad (at his grandparents house) getting married to someone that wasn't me. He asked who that person was - he was used to seeing our wedding pictures so he understood and I don't believe in lying to children.

    I told him that was daddy first wife and explained (in 5 year old terms) about divorce. His first question was - will we get divorced? I told him exactly how I felt at the time and best way to reassure him. I said that daddy didn't love his first wife enough and they never had children (total truth) and that we loved each other enough to have him so I doubt if we would get divorced. End of discussion with him.

    Its always a fine line about what to say and not say to children. I remember hearing how calling your children "stupid" is the worst thing (I AGREE) so I used to tell him he was too smart to do something so stupid - worked for us.

  8. I really think that you said the right thing. You were honest, but also reassuring. And thats all we can do in marriage. Be honest and hope for the best. Of course you dont want your kids to worry and think that someday you may get divorsed. But I think you should never make a promise to your kids that you arent atleast 99.9% sure you can keep. They hold us to those promises, and divorce is hard enough on them without the added betrayal of a broken promise.

  9. Our son is ony 2 so the subject has not come up. However, how you handle communicating with your kids is YOUR choice. I think being honest on difficult subject matter will only benefit them down the road.

  10. You guys are great. Your comments are wonderful.

    Mr. Man - thank you for tweeting this (or however you spell it!)

    I'll have to join twitter one of these days.

  11. I dont' knwo what else you would have said, you can't control the future and sometimes things happen, I think you answered honestly, YOu can't make promises that you can't keep so great job! really we are going to screw them up no matter what we do.

  12. You should never lie to a kid (on purpose anyway). Just like they never forget promises...they never forget lies. Being honest when they ask you a question is always key. I started this with girl #1 (now 18), she still asks me, to this day, about ANYTHING--because she KNOWS I won't lie.

  13. I think you did the right think, I totally agree with Martie... Kids will remember promises, you should promise to always love them no matter what happens. But like you said, you never know what can happen...

    Just wanted you to know, I have something for you on my blog:

  14. I'm divorced, so the there isn't anything to ask now...such a pity.

  15. I think you did the right thing too... that is really a tough one.

    thanks so much for doing my thursday tirade today!!

  16. When my husband and I would hit some rough times and get very loud, our daughters would go together to another room and just cry. They were terrified that we would divorce. They never really asked in a calm manner about us divorcing. They had seen so many of their friends' parents end up in a divorce court. They know I'm a child of divorce. It was always a real thing to them.

    I think you said absolutely the right thing. No parent or parental team can promise what is going to happen in the future.