11/24/2014 03:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Full Disclosure: Telling My Son About My Previous Marriages


When she was 19, one of my closest girlfriends was helping her parents clean out a dresser and came upon a wedding photo of a bride and groom, the bride was her mother, the groom was not her father. Shocked and confused, she asked her mom about it. Her mom said, "It didn't matter." It didn't matter until right then when her daughter's world was turned on its side for a while as she reorganized her understanding of her family.

Another girlfriend confided recently that she felt like she had already waited too long to tell her elementary school-aged kids about her previous marriage. She knew she was going to tell them eventually and was worried that it would be hard for them to hear it now that they had friends whose parents were getting divorced.

I have two previous marriages behind me. I took the experience of my gals into consideration. I discussed it with Jeff. When Bob was four years old, we decided the time had come for me to talk to our son about it before the news could be interpreted as a secret being kept and revealed.

"Honey? Come sit down for a minute."

"Okay... Did someone die?'

"No. Why would you ask that?"

"Are we having a talk?"

"Yes, but it's not about anyone dying."


"So Bob, sometimes when people get married the two people decide that it's not a good fit and they get unmarried. It's called a divorce."

"I'm going to marry Daisy and Pearl."

"When you're old enough and you and the dog and the cat all decide to get married, we can discuss it. So what I want to tell you is that before I met Daddy I was married and unmarried -- divorced, two times."

"Did those guys die?"

"No, they didn't die. No one died. They are both good guys, but not good matches for me so we were unmarried. Then I met Daddy. We are a good match, and we are a family."

"And you and daddy are staying married?"

"We are staying married. I just wanted you to know about my other marriages. Do you have any questions?"


"Sure, honey, what is it?"

"Do you know I was kidding when I said I was going to marry Daisy and Pearl?"