After 5 years of being divorced my 9 year old daughter has been asking to know why her mom and dad got divorced. My marriage was very abusive and still her father and I don’t get along. My reply to her has always been I’ll tell you when you’re
older, it’s too complicated for you to understand. I have learned he has been telling her things, but not the truth. He does not want her to look at him any differently. My question is do I tell her the truth?
The truth can be dangerous. Usually when children want to know grown-up things, you give them little truths, and wait for them to keep pushing. The question “where do babies come from?” starts with “Mom’s stomach.” The child might want to know “How did it get there?” Then we say “Daddy gave mommy his sperm.” Then, if they want to know how the sperm got there, they are probably ready for the truth.
Is your daughter ready for the truth? What kinds of questions could you ask her to find out? “Mommy and Daddy couldn’t understand each other.” Then she might ask “Why not?” and you could ask “Do you know why people don’t understand each other sometimes?” She might surprise you by saying “Because a person is too angry.”
If you can find out whether your daughter wishes you were back together, or wondering if you know that her father may have a temper with you too, you’ll find the answers you need to feel comfortable whatever you say.
And don’t forget to look within yourself. Don’t reveal the truth just because you need her to understand you, which would be understandable. But that won’t be good for her – she may choose to go the same route and find a man who won’t treat her right! Write her a letter instead, and seal it for her to find after you’re gone, or to give to her when she’s grown up and ready to know the real story.