My husband moved out of the house about three weeks ago. I have talked to him about telling the children that we are separated but he keeps avoiding facing having to do this. He travels a lot for work so there has been little change in our routine because the children are used to him not being around much. BUT there have been small changes and a few questions from them.
They are 3 and 5 and I feel they have a right to have their questions answered. Would it be wrong of me to tell them daddy and I are separated if he continues to avoid the conversation or should I wait until he can be here and we can both talk to them together?
Although it is not an easy conversation to have, I agree with you that your children have the right to know that their father has moved out. Although they are already used to being without their father at times due to his traveling, the fact that they are asking questions shows that the children are aware that this time it is different.
They have noticed the small changes; young children are very sensitive to changes and may also pick up on your mood. They may experience feelings but don’t posess the words nor the mental maturity to express themselves yet. If children are not provided with an explanation they can understand, they may feel confused and ‘fill in the blanks’ by themselves .
Young children tend to blame themselves when one of the parents leaves the house (‘Did Daddy not come back from his trip because of something I did?’). It is important to let them know that it is NOT their fault. They need to understand that both parents keep loving and caring for them and will stay involved in their lives.
You may say that it is not working between you and their father. You can say that you didn’t get along (or fought a lot) and that is why you both decided you don’t want to live in the same house anymore.
Children’s book Nina Has Two Houses is a helpful resource for starting the conversation about the separation and what it means if Mommy and Daddy don’t live in the same house anymore. Ideally, you talk with the children together, but if their father keeps postponing this, I advice that you already tell them. You can always expand on it together later when he is available.
They don’t need to know details about the reason for separation though. I wish you all the best in this difficult time. Take one day at a time, take care of yourself and your kids needs and you WILL get through this and find a new equilibrium.