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Explaining to Kids When Parents Separate

By Jodie Lynn


My wife of ten years just left me and our two young children to go back to her old boyfriend who is now moving back. How can I explain to them that they are not bad children and did not make their mom leave?


You can try to help the kids understand why this happened but she is ultimately responsible for explaining the situation to them. Try to talk to her and tell her what the kids are going through and how confused they are. They need to hear from their mom in her own words. - R. C. in Rochester, NY


While I understand this is quite a devastating situation for you and of course for your children, you will have to step up to the plate and make the best of it. This may sound almost unbearable to you because right now you may just want to scream and cut everyone out of your life. However, your children, regardless of ages, will look to you for stability, guidance and some type of normalcy to their suddenly disrupted lives. Try not to show animosity towards your wife at this time because they will quickly follow suit. If you need to vent, do so in private where they cannot hear. If they attend school, go to a childcare facility or even to some type of extracurricular activity and if you are comfortable with it, share your situation with teachers, instructors and anyone that who comes into contact with the kids so they too can be aware of the difficult time taking place in your household. It may be a tad embarrassing, and there may not be a need to tell every detail, but it will help to prepare them for whatever may suddenly pop up while they are spending time with the kids. School counselors are usually great at helping children of all ages during a stressful time such as this, as well as potentially providing some insightful information for parents like yourself. The last thing you want to do is not do anything. Oftentimes when a spouse leaves the family the one who is left behind will think that they will return so they themselves end up doing nothing. This is the time to come to terms with making positive changes in your life and the lives of the children, which is not an easy task by any means. While there may or may not be a chance to patch things up in the future, take care of yourself and your kids for now. Additionally, always remember: this not a battle between you and the children's mother. This is a battle between you and life. The only way you can lose is to give up.

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Our son is playing fall soccer for the first time. There are countless parents who drop their kids off for practices. However, I have noticed that it is these boys who act up and end up causing problems with the other players by disobeying the coach and agitating the other kids. As a concerned parent, should I try to correct their behavior or say something to the coach or to their parents?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email direct2contact, or go to which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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