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Family Ties: Separated from Spouse

Family Ties: Separated from Spouse

Parenting: How Do I Respond When My Daughter Says She Misses Daddy?


Q: I have recently separated from my husband. I moved into an apartment in the same town as my husband, and we share time with our 4 year-old daughter equally, with him being with her several days and nights each week. Even though Ellie, our daughter, sees her Dad frequently, when she is with me she has been crying at night and when I go in to see what is wrong, she says, tearfully, “I miss Daddy.” This breaks my heart….What should I say to Ellie when she cries and says she misses her Daddy?  

A: It is normal for children to need time to adjust to their parents’ separation and to a new living arrangement. The fact that Ellie is expressing her emotional feelings may actually help her adjust to the separation more quickly than if she did not express her emotions.

Don’t be alarmed and don’t overreact to her crying and saying she misses her Dad. You could respond by gently saying, “I know you miss Daddy. He misses you too and he will be so happy to see you on ___________” (fill in the blank with whatever day she will be with her Dad). 

Rub her back or stroke her hair to calm her. If she is too upset to get back to sleep you could suggest that she draw Daddy a picture, or call him on the phone. But be careful that Ellie does not learn to use her crying as a ploy to stay up late and avoid bedtime!     

Caroline Schacht has a master’s degree in home economics and another in sociology. She has been trained as a divorce mediator and a teacher at East Carolina University, specializing in courtship and marriage classes. She is the co-author of several textbooks, including "Choices in Relationships and Understanding Social Problems." She can be reached a cschacht@suddenlink.net.

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