Toddlers and Divorce


Dealing with missing their Dad and siblings

My daughter is five and we are a divorced family with a new wonderful man in our lives. I’m learning how to respond when she begins asking questions and saying all sorts of random statements regarding her former family. She tells her “new” dad that she loves her other dad more and she doesn’t like him. She says how much she misses her dad and her brother and sisters. I don’t know exactly what to say or do in these times. What I’ve learned is that, you have to let them to express their feelings. As a parent, you have to acknowledge their feelings.

You remember bad, the kiddos remember the “good”

She remembers the good times but you remember how they really treated your daughter. You remember them kicking her out of their room, taking her things, not talking to her, not sharing with her, and not even acknowledging her. They would only be nice when I was watching. I was the only parent that would tell them to be nice. The father would watch and do nothing. If I had enough, he would pull them to the side. He would have a private conversation with them then they would just go do whatever. Never come back and apologize to either my daughter or myself. What? No “I’m sorry”? NOTHING?? Those are the times I remember, but she has conveniently forgotten. There is so much anger inside of me that it takes an insane amount of self-control to refrain from yelling at my daughter to REMEMBER how they REALLY were to her.

The old family is gone

We have a special situation. He wasn’t ”Dad”. We probably will not see them again. My daughter always asks if we can see them again. She has this idea that we will see them again. As a parent, I don’t want to teach her that people are expendable, but what do you do?  

Love them more

I don’t know if that makes it easier or more difficult. All I know is that this world can be a big, mean, and scary place for a tenderhearted child. If drama at home is added to the big scary world, mental development of the child can be at stake. We must do our best to keep a stable environment at home. In addition, we must talk to our children to let them know we are not going to leave them. When my daughter tells me she wants to be alone, I hug and kiss her until it drives her to laughing. I’m not going to leave her alone and I’m going to make sure she knows. As adults we need to grieve over the loss; we must permit our children to do the same. We must encourage them to discuss their feelings. As parents, we cannot shy away from what they feel or not discuss the realities of the new life. We must speak honestly to them and address each concern the child has about the divorce and new life. They may revert to acting like they did were they were much younger. Don’t make a huge deal out of bed-wetting, baby talk or anything out of the ordinary. Simply encourage them through each situation. We as parents can love them more, hug them more, and reassure them that they did nothing wrong. Each day will be a new adventure and that’s ok… love them through each day.