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What a sweet boy you have. It's probably a phase and will pass. My DS was much younger when we split but I remember him trying to comfort me too and trying to cheer me up, only for me to end up crying at how sweet he was being. I think the best thing you can do is to show appreciation when he does things, but also sound surprised, and as if it's not expected. And make sure you have other sources of support, and that your DS knows this.
My DP's eldest DD was about that age when he split from his ex - she did end up taking on quite a lot looking after the younger two, and DP too at times, if he was unwell or something, which wasn't great for her I think. She would get fed up with it once in a while and go off back to her mum's if it got too much (this was before I moved in). Finding other mums and other single parents to do things together with helps you have some adult support and lets the kids be kids.
OP you have a kind protective DS and he sounds lovely. In seeking to comfort you I suspect he is also asking for reassurance from you. Trying to step into his dad's shoes as 'man' of the house he's filling a void he subconsciously doesn't want filled by an outsider.
Now the affair is out in the open, a certain pressure will have lifted. Reassuring DS that he is loved and secure and could not in fact do any more than he does already to make you both proud of him is vital. His siblings are that bit younger, how is he with them?
I would ensure that he keeps up any activities he and his friends enjoy in and out of school. Is this his last year before secondary school? Really important he keeps up with pals and doesn't become withdrawn or solitary, just before more major upheaval in the shape of 'big' school.
Children develop early a horror of 'standing out' from their peers and he may feel disinclined to open up, especially if he rarely sees you upset. He won't be the only boy in his year in this situation but by assuming a more adult stance he is trying to regain some control.
My older DS tried to be "the man of the house" when my DH died. I dealt with it (and still do, because it still comes up occasionally in times of crisis even though now he's nearly grown) by being explicit about our roles. Sometimes -- often -- you have to say things a number of times. Or at least I do.
I told him that I loved him to bits, but that he wasn't the man of the house, he was my DLS. That it was my house, and I was the parent. He was a child, and would never have to look after me. I looked after him and his DB.
Your son may fear your sorrow, and feel he needs to care for you. I'd just keep stressing that he's the child and that you protect him, not the other way round. Reassure him, because he doesn't really want to take on his DDs role, he's just scared of what might happen if no one looks after you. Hope this helps.
My oldest child is nearly 12. My other children are 9 and 6.
I split from ex about a month ago after 13 years together after he had an affair.He is still living here for financial reasons but it is amicable now that I realise that he is an EA narc. While he was having the affair there was a lot of tension as he gaslighted ds1 and me over the affair.
Anyway, since the affair came to light ds1 has started to take on the role of good husband. He brings me constant cups of tea, buys presents with his pocket money, constantly telling me how much he loves me and been very affectionate. Before the affair he was sullen, moody, angry, mono-syllabic (basically a typical 11 year old). While I am happy that he is not moody I worry that he is insisting on taking on an adult role and have told him not to worry about me and that I am happy and looking forward to the future. He has not seen/heard me cry or argue with his Dad for weeks so I wonder why he pities me.
He says that he feels very sorry for me and that he wants to tell/show me how much he loves me now that he knows that his Dad does not. I have told him that I know how much he loves me (even when we argue) and that as an 11 year old he should be thinking about stuff like his friends.
I do not think I have relied on him too much and I do not bitch about his Dad or OW to him (only on the Internet). His relationship with his Dad has improved slightly now that his Dad is being more honest but I think he realises what his Dad is like now so has realistic (low) expectations of him.
How can I change things so that ds1 is able to be a child rather than "man of the house"? Is this a phase that some kids go through?