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My parents (mom and stepdad) are getting a divorce. I don’t know how to explain this situation to my five-year-old son. My son absolutely adores his grandma and grandpa. I have no idea what to say to him and how it could potentially affect him. I know it would take some time to process.
On top of that, grandma is already dating another man, and my son has met him. So I also don’t know how to explain that. For now, we have just said that the new guy is grandmas friend.
My husband is rather conservative and may get upset if I talk to our kids about their grandparent’s divorce, considering how messy the situation is turning out to be. My husband hinted earlier that he doesn’t approve of my mother dating while she is still married and that he wasn’t very happy that I let our kid meet her new boyfriend.
What information would simply help explain what’s happening? And how do I deal with my husband? Help, please.
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Divorce is never easy on kids. I am a child of divorced parents, myself. But kids are incredibly resilient as everyone always says and it's so true. If you explain it to your kids in a way they can understand, then they will be ok. You don't need to get into minutiae of why their grandparents won't be together. You just need to remind them that they are loved, that no matter where their grandparents will be living, they will still be the same people. It might be a tricky transition at first, but eventually, they will adapt and if they are loved, they will thrive.
Children are more resilient than we think, and can adapt to change quite well when things are explained to them in a way that is appropriate for their age. At age 5, children still see the world in largely concrete and self-centred terms - this means that they will be most concerned about how the change will affect them rather than the effects of the divorce on those involved.
Talk to your child about the practical aspects of the divorce: the fact that grandma and grandpa are not going to live together any more, the fact that they will see grandma and grandpa separately (and that sometimes grandma or grandpa may have a friend with them), and that both grandparents love them very much. Before each visit, remind them that either grandma or grandpa will not be there, but that they will see them on another day. If they have questions, answer them as simply as possible.
As your child does not understand the emotional, moral, or legal complexities of divorce they will not view grandma or grandpa having a "friend" as wrong unless if this is explicitly communicated to them. If possible, try and reach an understanding with your husband not to allow your personal feelings to affect your child's relationship with their grandparents. When they are older you and your husband can have this discussion with them.
As someone who is divorced and had to break it to my own kids, I know where you're coming from. Granted, my kids were 13 and 9 years old when my ex-husband and I split up but no matter what age they are, it's never easy.
That being said, I would suggest doing it at home and having a calm conversation with them. Reassure your son that his grandparents absolutely adore him just as much as he adores them and that their separation from each other has nothing to do with a lack of love for him. As for the new boyfriend, that's going to be incredibly difficult for your son to grasp. It may be best for your mother to continue introducing her new man as a very close friend of hers until your son is able to differentiate that his grandparents are separated and have established new lives.
I know your son is probably going to have a difficult time processing it all but I also hope that you are doing okay with the news of your parent's split.
All the best,