Difficult Questions: Daughter Asks Why Her Parents Are Separated And Her Mother Doesn’t Know How To Answer

Divorce can be a challenging time for both parents and children, especially when kids are struggling to understand why mommy and daddy aren’t together. For this woman, who we’ll call Sarah, figuring out how best to tell her daughter that she’s separated from her ex-husband is a challenge.

They Have Always Been Separated

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Sarah’s daughter grew up from a very young age knowing that Sarah and her ex-husband do not live with each other. Sarah said, “My daughter will be 8 soon. Her father and I split up when she was 4 weeks old. She does not know a life of mommy and daddy living together…. But, she also doesn’t know a life of mommy and daddy fighting. Him and I have an amazing co-parenting relationship. We do everything together for her. Holidays, birthdays, sporting events. He was at my wedding and I was at his.”

The Realization

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“She obviously knows we are not married and we do not live together,” Sarah said. “But it’s like she’s finally putting it together now that we are NOT a couple… now that she has friends with parents that aren’t divorced.”

The Living Arrangement

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Sarah shared her co-parenting arrangement with her ex. She said, “I have her Mondays to Fridays and he has her every other weekend.” Sarah also notes that her ex visits on the Mondays that her ex doesn’t have her daughter over the weekend. “But we also work with each other a lot if one of us has another obligation, we switch the schedule up.”

Dealing with Questions

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“She is starting to ask questions about why we broke up, why we couldn’t work it out, will we ever be together again,” Sarah shared. “And really struggling with missing her dad and crying for him every night and getting upset because she doesn’t live with both of us.”

Explaining the Situation

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“I explain to her that sometimes parents work better together and are better at being mom and dad when they’re not together,” Sarah said, but she is also wondering how else she can ease her daughter’s brain.

Daughter Is Grieving

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One person offered up a solution. She said, “I am separated since a few months and my daughter asks the same questions. I simply tell her we want different things. I actually make a comparison to food. Telling her it is like I want to have bouillabaisse (which her father hates) and her father wants fava beans (which I hate). I always tell her that it is not because of her, that she is the best that ever came from her dad and me. That we both love her. And that it is ok to be sad. I furthermore encourage her to talk about it with the people she trusts. And I bought her a special diary she can write in. Your daughter is grieving, I think. Just like mine.”

Finding Something To Relate To

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Another said they should look for something her child can relate to. They said, “Have you tried any good co-parenting books you can read with her that can maybe give a child-friendly perspective on parents not living together? Sounded like she has friends who have parents who are together, so it may be hard for her to find someone or something to relate to. Books, shows, movies that may have more of a positive outlook on co-parenting [would work because] it sounds like you work better apart than together.”

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