We're Splitting Up -- How Do I Tell My Toddler?


talking to toddlers about divorce

Photo by JayGirlsMom

What's more heartbreaking: The fact that you are breaking up with your SO or that you now have to tell your toddler that the man she's known as Daddy for most her life is leaving?

"When my 2 year old daughter asks me where Daddy is or wants to go give him a kiss, what on earth do I tell her?" Kelly_n_Payton asks in Toddler Moms. "I can't possibly say that Daddy doesn't love us anymore and wants to give us up to pursue his own selfish agenda. What do I do?"

So, whether it's your husband, friend, or a family member -- how do you tell a toddler that someone they love is leaving the family dynamic? Do you give them hope that they will come back, even though they probably never will?

"All I know is that you aren't supposed to give them any hope of you guys ever being together gain." KittyD

"Are there any friends that could take her for a night or do things with her that will take her mind off of him? I know it won't be easy to get him out of her mind, but if she is occupied with something else then she is less likely to bother you about him. It will be hard at first but she will slowly lose interest and move on." princess1979

"Maybe check the library for a kids book that you could read with her and use to help you explain." anonymous

"From the way you worded your post are you saying he is not her biological father? If he isn't and he has no intention of being a part of her life, I would let her keep a picture and just tell her that he is at his house. In time she will either forget or move on." TawnyR

"You shouldn't do it alone. Have him come over so that both of you can sit down and explain things to her. If it's just you, she might think he doesn't love her anymore. She will need to hear from him so it can give her some comfort." JamieLeigh02

++Has this ever happened to you? How did you explain a break up to your toddler?

girls, learning


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milmi... milmiracle

It's easier for a toddler than lets say a 6 or 7 year old, especially if u hide your emotions from them.  Don't use big words, use baby words and act as if it is a natural thing that is happening and they will remain as normal as can be.  They can speak on the phone, keep a pic, have their visits every weekend or whatever.  Unfortunately a divorce includes the kids in the sense that they cannot have one parent there 24/7 but that only serves to make them more independent and stronger in time. 

the1y... the1youluv2hate

It is easier the younger they are. It takes time but the question do slow down at least. I would just explain that mommy and daddy are going their seperate ways but it doesn't mean they don't love you anyless. And hope the S/O will still be in the child's life as much as possible!

Unbro... Unbroken_Amanda

One thing you have going for you is the young age. My boys were 5 and 8...It was hard but one thing my ex and I always strived for is parenting together. NO matter how we felt about eachother, we always did right by the boys. We never disrespected one another and always agreed on things together. Our stuff aside the boys happiness meant the world to us.

Psych... PsychicSherry

Do it as simply as possible. NEVER put down the father...you don't have to build him up..but don't put him down. State that dad is getting a new place to live...and you can call anytime you want to. If he does not answer the phone...then just say dad must be busy. Let her know you love her. Toddlers have shorter memories...so that is better...and she will not remember him living with you as long as someone older. Even if he plays a 'tug of war' with her...you DO NOT have to tug back.

Good Luck!

avasm... avasmom1606

my hubby and I almost split and because of how it was happening I decided I would tell my daughter the truth when she was old enough to understand, I seriously would tell her the truth, daddy had issues, he didn't want us anymore and he abandoned us...he's not a good person. My hubby deployed for a year and had serious issues and came back COMPLETELY different ...thankfully over time he got back into the norm...and I stood by him and dealt with it all cause I love him and I knew he wasn' t the same and I prayed and had faith he would go back to his old self. but, had he not given it a chance my daughter would have been told everything that her dad had become...because she would have found out the truth anyway when her daddy never called or visited anymore...so it's best they get over it earlier cause as teenagers, I had friends that had major issues cause parents waited until they were teens to tell them...had they known when they were young, it wouldn't have affected them and every single one of them, ended up in therapy and were suicidal...so....it's better your kids know as early as they can understand.


avasm... avasmom1606

oh btw, the reason why daddy wouldn't be visiting and such is cause he's military and I would move back to VA while he stayed in TX and even probably went to Europe and such, he wouldn't have time for her.

drown... drowninginboys

My ex husband and I split when my boys were 2 and 4. It was hard at first, but the younger one remembers nothing of us when we were together, and the older one remembers little. I think it was easier that way than if we would have tried to stay together and split when they were older. Their dad sees them all the time, they are 10 and 12 now. Its just the way its always been. I am remarried to a wonderful man who treats them as if they were his own, and they have a step brother and a half brother, and dad is engaged and they have a half sister. They are well adjusted and, I think, very lucky to have parents who knew when it was time to call it quits before things got really bad.

sweet... sweet-a-kins

My sister went through this with her 4 year old. My sis moved out and told her DD that they were gonna live somewhere else, and she would get a new room . But daddy was gonna stay at the other house. she had a few questions but not many. Anytime she asked for him, she would let her call him. and its been about 9 mos. and shes ok....it had rough spots, but they are ok

MayMo... MayMommy07

I still remember the day my parents told me the where divorcing. I was a little bit older age 7 but I will never forget the day.

lrj42685 lrj42685

my friend dealt with this with her 3 year old... But in her case her husband had stopped being a father and had stopped coming home so her dd never asked for him. She thought she was hiding her emotions from her dd and one day her dd looked at her and said "oh mommy I am sorry you are so sad" thats when she knew it was time to leave bc she couldnt be the sad mommy she needed to be a good mommy more

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