I am not yet lucky enough to have children of my own, and unfortunately my only sister moved interstate a couple of years ago so I don’t get to see my niece and nephew as much as I would like. So when my husband and I separated earlier this year, it was up to my sister and her husband to explain to the children that Uncle Glen doesn’t live here any more.
Since then I haven’t spoken to the kids about it. I’m visiting them in September, and that will be the first time I’ll actually see them in person since it all happened. My nephew just turned 4 today, so he just takes things in his stride, but my niece is 6 so she understands a bit more. When she was told, apparently she was able to relate it to a school friend whose parents didn’t live together anymore either, and that helped her to understand what was going on.
Tonight on the phone we were chatting away and all of a sudden she said, “I really miss Glen Bacsi” [Hungarian for Uncle Glen]. Just about broke my heart. Not having children I wasn’t sure what the right thing to say was, so I just said, “I know sweetie. I’m sorry, he won’t be visiting with me in September”, and then we started talking about other things.
I think it’s something I’ll have to take some time to talk to her about when I’m there, one on one. Do any parents or others in similar situations have advice for how to talk about separations to young children? I am pretty much floundering, otherwise…