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Dear David Coleman: My five-year-old asks if I was married. What should I say?

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It may be helpful for you and his dad to have a shared explanation, which you can both agree on

It may be helpful for you and his dad to have a shared explanation, which you can both agree on

It may be helpful for you and his dad to have a shared explanation, which you can both agree on

Q I have been separated from my husband since 2016. We have a five-year-old son. We have a regular schedule for access. My son has been asking recently were we married. I'm wondering how to approach this. I want him to be an emotionally stable man when he grows up, not searching for something in a relationship (like me). I know my stuff stems from early childhood. I do not ever want him to feel he needs to take sides and what I tell him now he will remember for life. Please advise me on what to say to him.

David replies: Given that you were married, prior to your separation, then I think it is okay to tell him the truth. It isn't very clear to me what the problem might be about discussing this with him, especially since he is interested. At his age he is most likely to simply be inquisitive about the concrete facts. It may have been, simply, that other boys and girls he knows have been talking about their parents being married and so he is just trying to establish exactly what being married means.

Before giving him a direct answer, you could explore with him what the significance of being married means to him. Finding out what he already knows about marriage and what marriage means, allows you to put whatever answer you choose to give into a context for him, that will fit with his current understanding.