Answering tough questions

How to prepare for when your child asks about the reasons behind your divorce

Q: My husband and I separated when my daughter was nine months old because he was addicted to drugs. He has been clean for over a year and has a good relationship with her. What do I tell my daughter, who is now four, when she starts asking why we are no longer together?

A: Wait until your daughter asks, and keep your answer simple. You don’t need to get into any detailed explanations about her father’s drug addiction. It’s really up to him to share this with her, and only when your daughter is mature enough to understand — probably not until late adolescence or even early adulthood. For now, explain that there were grown-up reasons for why you and her father separated and that you decided you couldn’t live together anymore. If you get the sense she feels responsible for the breakup, reassure her that it is never the children’s fault. You might also reinforce that both you and her father love her very much and will be there to take care of her.