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Old 12-15-2009, 10:04 PM   #1
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How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

DS1 has become more aware of family structure lately (he's 5). He's just realized that DH and I have brothers and sisters of our own, as well as parents. DH's parents are married for 35+ years, mine are divorced. My mom has been remarried a couple times, but is currently single (after recently ending a 4-year relationship). My dad is remarried to his wife of 15 years.

DS1 has now made the connection that Grandpa Bill and Grandma Penny are DH's mommy and daddy. I have explained to him that Nana is my mom and Grandpa Al With the Mustache (the name DS has given him ) is my dad. I'm not sure what to say about Grandma Cathi (my dad's wife). DS hasn't really asked about her yet, but I think that he is going to figure out that the math is not quite adding up here rather shortly. I guess I'm worried about him asking if she is my mom, or why I have two moms, and so on. She's never been a real maternal figure for me (I was in my late teens when she came into the picture and there was major animosity towards my mother on her part, so there is a lot of unforgiven history there, but we get along okay for the short periods we see each other) so I don't like the idea of referring to her as "my other mom", or that I have two moms, etc.

I just don't know what I'm going to say when he does ask, he came really close when my dad and stepmother were at our place around Thanksgiving and made some comment about grandpa being my dad. I was just waiting for him to ask who SMIL was; the idea of explaining stepparents, divorce, and remarriage to a 5-year-old without scaring him bewilders me...I can't wait for the day he realizes that my dad and sister are related (they are estranged and haven't spoken in over 5 years)! Just wondering what other folks do if they have parents that are divorced?

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Old 12-16-2009, 06:53 AM   #2
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

My parents are divorced and both remarried (though Mom is a widow now) and FIL was widowed and has been married to SMIL for 15 years. We just told the kids the truth when they asked questions. With TV, books, preschool friends, etc. divorce is not such a strange concept for our little ones as it once might have been. Yes, at some point they will grasp all the ramifications and ask difficult questions, but you just answer in an age appropriate manner and reassure them that Mommy and Daddy are together and intend to stay that way.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:07 AM   #3
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

I am still trying to understand my great grandparent's divorce so I can't be much help. (I was the grandchild of the "the Graduate".)

In all seriousness, I think kids accept what they are given. I have 3 dads (not including FIL) and 2 mother like figures (though one I rarely talk to, that being my step mother). I also have 3 grandmothers (all my grandfathers have passed). My DH on the other hand has a more normal family in that no one divorced.

Maybe I am nieve but I don't think my son will think it is that strange. After all he is growing up with this and we make no secrete about who his grandparents are and I frequently call my fathers by Dad #1, Dad #2, or Dad #3. I know I had no issues with my grandparent being divorced (one side was) nor with my great grandparent that were divorced (though I did have issues when I found out grandpa had dated great grandma before he dated grandma! ).
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:26 AM   #4
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

I"m going to be dealing with this someday too. On some level it will be easier for us because my DD's have a half sister that isn't with us full time. In that respect DD's will have grown up with it. I think the confusing thing for them will be that DSD calls me 'mom' so it will tough to explain why DSD has two moms and they only have one, kwim?

My parents divorced when I was 19 and my dad remarried when I was 24. I love my step mom. I don't call her 'mom' because I was an adult when she entered my life, so I don't really feel as thought she did any *mothering* when it came to my upbringing. We live very close to my dad and step mom and 2000 miles away from any other family on dh's side or mine.

Our kids will grow up being much closer to my dad and step mom than any other family. My step mom is a fantastic grandmother to my kids and I couldn't be more grateful! My mom visits twice a year so while my kids will have a relationship with her, they will naturally be closer to my step mom.

I guess just answer questions as they come up. Don't over explain (that's my biggest downfall). Answer only what is being asked and eventually your son will put it all together in his head. I don't think there will be too much traumatic about it cause he will have grown up with it that way, ya know?
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:32 AM   #5
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

Hmm, I don't know. I haven't given much thought to explaining the divorce situation to my kids. My 4yr old understand that Grandpa Richard is Jay's daddy and Aunty Lynn is his sister. That Grandpa Rob is my daddy and Grammy is my mommy and the other aunts are my sisters. My dad is remarried to Grammy Jen. My mil died last year so we'll have that to explain too. But maybe the extra grandparents won't seem like a big deal to him because we adopt people over the years, like Nana Sue who is NO relation to us at all but is his nana none the less. Family is family regardless of blood so I don't know. When he asks I guess I'll try to find the simplest explanation that he'll understand.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:35 AM   #6
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

My husband was previously married, and I worry about this too. I have a step-daughter (Hayley), and my husband's ex has remarried. All of us get along really well, and we see each other often. My kids haven't yet asked why Hayley is their sister, but has a different mom.

For now, we just call Hayley's mom and her husband "Auntie Julie and Uncle David" because they really are family to us. We are all close, as I mentioned. I guess when they start figuring it all out, we'll just tell the truth; that Daddy was married to Auntie Julie before he was married to mommy. But then they got a divorce, and now mommy and daddy are married.

I guess there's just no easy way to talk about it because divorce is no fun, and it's scary for kids. I would say that straightforwardness about it is best.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:06 PM   #7
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

The children's book When Grandparents Divorce is a great tool for talking to kids about grandparent divorce. This is an important guide on how to tell grandchildren about their grandparentsí divorce and is written by a professional counselor who has first-hand experience when her parents announced they were getting divorced. This book can be bought at revitalizecounselingservice.com
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:28 PM   #8
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Re: How do you explain the grandparents' divorce and remarriage to your children?

my wife's parents divorced when she was an adult, and her father remarried the year before we got married. he died when our eldest was 10 months, but we still visit his wife (nana) at least once ayear for about a week (she lives 7 hours away). for us it wasn't a big deal -- just that zayde and bubbe were mommy's dad and mom, and that after they got divorced, he married nana and bubbe met papa ken. its never been a source of confusion for our kids, and they never assumed that either papa ken -- mil's boyfriend -- or nana was a parent to dw. I don't think why they got divorced has come up yet. my parents are still married.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by katiejsaint
The children's book When Grandparents Divorce is a great tool for talking to kids about grandparent divorce. This is an important guide on how to tell grandchildren about their grandparents’ divorce and is written by a professional counselor who has first-hand experience when her parents announced they were getting divorced. This book can be bought at revitalizecounselingservice.com
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