How did you break the news to your children, that Daddy was leaving?

(68 Posts)
Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 16:45:06

Just over two weeks ago, my husband & myself decided that our marriage had come to an end and it would be best for us to seperate.
He is still living at home atm, but is soon moving out & going to stay with a friend until our house is sold.
We have two young boys aged 3 & 6, who adore their Daddy so much. We haven't told them anything yet, but H wants this to be my job.
It is tearing me apart, as they ask where he is all the time when he is at work, or at the pub with his friends.
I am dreading breaking the news to them & possibly breaking their hearts in the process.
I was wondering how others went about it & what kind of affect it had on their children.
I would be grateful of any advice.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 16:46:30

we told them together, to make sure they knew we both still loved them, that it was nothing they had done, and that mummy and daddy couldnt live with each other anymore

tortoise Wed 28-Jun-06 16:47:31

I dont see why its your job.I think you need to both talk to them together.Mine where to young to explain it to when xp left.
As long as they know mummy and daddy still love them and its nothing to do with them.
Good luck.

sugarfree Wed 28-Jun-06 16:48:32

No personal experience but I really do think it is a job for both parents if at all possible.
Sorry you're having to go through this

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 16:57:56

I agree that it should really be done together, but H says that he will break the news to his Mum & he wants me to break the news to the boys. He also thinks I shouldn't do it until he has left, which I am not 100% happy about.
Lou, how did your children react to the news?

Caligula Wed 28-Jun-06 17:04:03

I agree with Lou, this is not your responsibility, it's your joint responsibility to tell them. By telling them together you're emphasising the fact that you're still both their parents, you're still both responsible for them and you both still love them.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:05:09

no he should be there too, he is copping out and trying to avoid seeing them upset, which they obviously will be

we told them and it didnt seem to sink in, they seemed to think he was just going away for a bit, so we gently reinforced the point that he wasnt going to live here anymore

they were heartbroken, it was the hardest thing i have ever done, watching their faces crumple, but we were both there to reassure them that we both loved them very very much and that would never change

they were upset too on the day he left but they have coped v well, and seem pretty happy all in all

mine are 14, 9, 7, 5 and we split in november

LadyTamba Wed 28-Jun-06 17:06:51

Dh and I have been seperated for nearly 3 weeks, My boys are 2 and 4 and I havent told them. They seem to have just accepted without question that daddy sleeps at nannys, but they see him everyday anyway so im not sure how much anything has changed for them. When theyve been with H they have just thought it was fun sleeping a nannys. I dont know whether I should really explain anything to them when they seem to be doing so well as they are.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:10:07

i think at some point you will have to tamba, your oldest will eventually ask when is daddy coming back, so you need to plan what to say when that time comes

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:18:52

I think my 3 year old is a little young to really understand, but my 6 year old is very sensitive & has just made a comment while eating his tea, that he doesn't want us to sell our house & how some children in his class do not have their Daddy at home & go & see them after school.
I told him that this happens sometimes when Mummy's & Daddy's stop loving each other, but that they still see lots of both Mummy & Daddy and that they still love their children just as much.
To this he said "Well I don't want you & Daddy to stop loving each other, because I remember how he shouted at you & you cried, but I saw Daddy hugging you, so I don't have to worry."
He is obviously really sensing something, but his comment just now has upset me so much.
This is so horrible.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:25:59

it is painful, but you have to remember that kids of that age see it so much simpler, and if you are going to make it as easy as possible, you and your h need to explain together, so they can hear from both of you that nothing has changed wrt your feelings for them

kids are resiliant creatures, they will be ok

Well coming from a child's point of view, I still remember quite clearly my parents telling me together. They explained that they didn't want to live together any more but that it didn't mean they didn't love us any less and that it was nothing we had done, but that mummmys and daddys sometimes just didn't get on so well any more and it was better for all of us if Daddy moved out.

I think I would have found it very odd if they couldn't have told us together.

You need to present a united front to the children, odd as it may sound when the result is division. If you don't then they may start blaming themselves in some way, they need to hear it straight from both of you

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:46:14

I will try my best to get him to agree that we should tell them together. You are right, he shouldn't cop out completely.

I mean, breaking it to his MUM? Big deal tbh, compared to the kids!

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:49:12

Well yes, you are right! He says his Mum will be devastated, which I have no doubts about, but they are his children as much as they are mine & he should take a little of the responsibility.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:49:29

he shouldnt cop out at all

my dad did that when i was 7, i came home from school (latch key kid) to an empty house and found the note saying he had gone

that's not something i would wish on my kids

oh god, this brings back memories.

unlike the countess, I was told about it by mum alone. and yes, I think it would have been easier coming from both of them. it won't be easy whatever you do.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:50:12

That must have been so horrible for you, Lou.

I'm sure his mum will be devastated but I'm sure she is old enough to cope. It is not her he lives with/plays with on a day to day basis is it?

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:54:57

This is just going to be the worst thing ever.
My Mum came out with the very supportive comment of "Well they are now going to be those children without a Dad"
I told her that they would always have a Dad, he just wouldn't be living with us.
I feel so terrible for my boys.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:55:11

it wasnt nice

the point it my father took the easy option for him, and didnt think of the kids

your h is trying to avoid seeing their reaction by doing a similar thing

sod his mum, she's an adult ffs

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 17:56:38

I agree, Lou. He clearly doesn't want to be a part of the horrible process.

Lemmingswife don't feel bad, tbh it was a relief as my dad was such a grumpy sod. we still saw him every day and then we got a fab stepfather and they were best friends and it all worked out for the better. Kids ARE resiliant - they don't want to see their parents unhappy and if you are then splitting up may be the best thing for ALL of you.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 17:58:46

yes i agree

in hindsight it was the best thing my father ever did for me, buggering off

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 17:59:45

I agree with lou. His mum is his mum, so yes he should tell her. Your children are your children and you really need to do this together. Your little boy is obviously picking up on tensions and the comments re: separated parents are common at his age (dd1 talks about this sort of stuff all the time). I think you owe it to them and yourselves to be honest (at an age-appropriate level) and constantly reassure them that they are the most important people in both your lives, during this difficult and upsetting time

Quite Lou

Though I love my dad to bits I can see he is a nightmare to live with. It was much easier seeing him p/t as he was always in a much better mood!

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:01:17

I know what I am doing is for the best for all of us really, it is just so hard, as my boys love their Daddy so much.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 18:06:39

they can still love him, nothing like that has to change

cd, i havent seen mine for 30 years!

LeahE Wed 28-Jun-06 18:07:09

(I'm not a lone parent but) I know my SIL has never forgiven her father for not having the guts to tell her face-to-face that he was leaving, and she's in her mid-20s now so she's had a while to get over it. Does your H want to risk setting himself up for a similar situation?

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:10:44

Reading your posts have made me determined to make it clear that I feel he should be present when the boys are told. Saying I should wait until he has left the house is a real cowards way out & typical of H to want to dodge it totally.
It will be a huge challange for me not to end up in floods of tears when we break the news though.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:11:26

Which wouldn't be good for my children!

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 18:12:05

if you think he is going to find a way out of it, just pick a time he is in the room with you and tell them, then he would have no choice

or is that very wrong?

sparklemagic Wed 28-Jun-06 18:14:38

lemming, I definitely agree he MUST be with you...the children will need the reassuring presence of both of you when they get this blow. If he can't stay with you then he must at least be with his children for this moment in their lives - the biggest, most formative event that they will ever have experienced.

Of course it will help for them to know that you both still love them etc but I also think it's worth acknowledging to yourselves that they have lost something here - no matter how re-assuring you are about it not being their fault and that you will always be their parents, they have still lost their family set-up, which is the main thing they have in their lives really. So I think what I'm saying is to allow them to mourn this and have all sorts of reactions to this because even though they are not losing you or their dad, they ARE losing their family (as they have known it up to this point).

You sound very sensitive to their feelings and needs so I'm sure they will be fine - but it is a MAJOR thing for them and your ex needs to develop a bit of backbone so he can be with you!

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:36:58

Good idea, Lou! That way he can't cop out of anything.
This is the hardest part of the whole horrible process & I am worried I will go & make it worse by getting tearful in front of them. I have to try & be strong for their sakes, but I don't know if I will be able to fight back the tears.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:39:34

I am very aware that they are losing their family unit, sparklemagic.
I feel so upset for my poor little boys.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 18:42:40

It isn't so bad if you cry in front of them, you are only human

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 18:45:39

it's fine to be upset, they realise you're human too.

for your husband to not be there also sends out the wrong message subliminally ie you or even they have done something wrong to make him go...when in reality it's a decision that you have come to, to try and make things better for everyone.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:46:23

Did you get tearful in front of the children when you broke the news, Lou?
It is such a hard, horrible thing to do & I feel so bad for them, that I don't know if I will be able to stay strong.
H has told me that I am not to let boys see I am upset.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 18:47:27

Hadn't thought of it like that, bundle - but you are right.

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 18:51:33

Of course i did, we both did, i would be made of stone if it didn't affect me

your h sounds like a twat, sorry

lou33 Wed 28-Jun-06 18:52:25

Also, as you are separating, your h has even less right to TELL you how to behave imo

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 18:56:08

being sad is a very important part of growing up, it's up to adults if they choose not to once they've grown up - and it's fine for you to cry imo. I remember sobbing my heart out in front of my ex-boyfriend's nephews and all 4 of them put their arms around me and said "what can we do?" I just said "you're doing it now"...they just understood and were incredibly kind to me.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 19:02:26

H can be a twat, Lou. We are seperating, as I cannot continue to be scared & controlled by him anymore.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 19:05:27

Bless your ex boyfriends nephews, bundle. They sound real sweeties.

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 19:07:22

I know lemingswife and after that they went the whole nine yards: they were quiet during coronation street..just for me thunk

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 19:10:13

What good boys!

Alipiggie Wed 28-Jun-06 19:12:46

As I'm currently separated from dh my two ds's have gone through similar situation. Sadly he left it up to me to tell them, he just packed his bag and went to his little room somewhere else. Luckily they were already so used to daddy not being around as he travelled that they didn't seem phased by it at all. They have accepted that it's because he can't be with mummy and that it's nothing to do with them. Sadly I honestly think that the youngest who'll be 3 on Sunday is already shutting daddy completely out of his life. Sorry for your situation, I hope all goes smoothly.

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 19:13:27

when do you think he'll go? it would be good to rehearse it through, even if he's not there when you do it. also i think you need to dispel any worries they might have about the practicalities eg when they'll see him (how that will happen, where and how often), how they can just phone him whenever they like for a chat etc(but not too much for them to take in)

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 19:20:05

Sorry to hear of your situation, Alipiggie.
Bundle, the when is he going question is another thread in itself!
He is going to move in with a friend & made out he was going last Saturday, but then decided he couldn't go then for various silly reasons, so it may be this Saturday.
It is really hard having to have him around so much given the circumstances.

Blu Wed 28-Jun-06 19:23:15

LW - my only concern is that you talk with H about it first and get him to understand the message you are planning to give the kids. And to make sure he doesn't come out with some accusation / guilt-tripping or balming you in front of them. 'Mummy wants me to leave...'. He needs to undeerstand that what you tell them is the basis of their security with both of you, and he will upset them much more if he does anything to seem as if he is apportioning blame. Even saying 'it's all my fault', I suppose.

And getting your Mother to sing from the same hymn sheet. Oh dear!

And as for "H has told me that I am not to let boys see I am upset." - well that says it all, really, doesn't it!?

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 19:36:41

lw could you bear to set him a deadline? sounds like drawing this out is doing no one any good

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 19:57:45

I will talk with H first, Blu. I want to make sure this is done as carefully as possible.
I hope he doesn't throw any guilt trip type comments in, but you just never know with H atm.
He has told me that I am not to let the boys see me tearful at all, as it will upset them.
I know it will affect the boys & I try not to get upset, but sometimes you can't help it & I know I will find itso hard breaking this horrible news.

Bundle if he doesn't go on Sat, it will be deadline time.

bundle Wed 28-Jun-06 19:59:45

I think that if (ok when ) you do cry in front of them explain it's because you feel sad about what's happening...but you know it's for the best.

Lemmingswife Wed 28-Jun-06 20:10:11

Yes, I guess you are right, bundle. Very hard though, as I don't want to upset them.

Caligula Wed 28-Jun-06 20:13:08

They'll be upset anyway. But Mummy trying to hide her feelings won't make them less upset, it will just confuse them.

He is a controlling bastard isn't he? No wonder you can't live with him any more.

Can you present it to him that telling them together, is putting them first. Neither of you want to tell them. You could argue that he's got to tell them as you have to tell your mother, who will be upset. How mad would that sound to him? And yet he's trying to pull that fast one on you, putting his feelings before the welfare of his children. Do you think a phone call to parentline might help? They might have some kind of leaflet they could send you with advice about how to tell the children, whcih you could then show to him. Sometimes, people accept arguments from "experts" that they won't accept from people they live with.

Lemmingswife Thu 29-Jun-06 00:18:27

I had never thought of anything like parentline, caligula.
He is v controlling, has been through our relationship & is continuing to be now.
I will try to get him to at least be alongside me when I tell the boys the news, as I feel it is important. They think the world of their Daddy & I think Daddy needs to be around to let them know that he will always be there for them whatever.

lou33 Thu 29-Jun-06 00:32:39

unfortunately there is no way not to upset them, the only thing you can do is to make it as easy as possible for them to take in and adjust to

but they will cope, and they will be fine, as long as you keep telling them that mummy and daddy still love them and it is not their fault

Lemmingswife Thu 29-Jun-06 07:25:31

I will make it crystal clear that none of it is their fault & that Mummy & Daddy still love them just as much as ever.
Thanks for all your advice.

lou33 Fri 30-Jun-06 12:13:15

not just you, he has to be there to say it as well

good luck

glitterfairy Fri 30-Jun-06 12:38:46

I told all three of my kids that we were having a temporary split for 8 weeks whilst my X laughed himself silly knowing he was off with another woman.

Then on the day I found out and chucked him out the children saw him removed by the police after hitting me. Nothing could have been worse adn it was followed up at his insistence by him telling them all about his other woman and how wonderful she was and how they could all have new bedrooms at his new barn conversion in the village where they had grown up and where one of them had been born.

I gave in LW and was made to bear the consequences of their deep hurt and mine. Dont let him get away with it. Saying you should do it is another aspect of his abuse of you.

glitterfairy Fri 30-Jun-06 12:40:26

Just to add LW I did loads of crying at first in front of mine and they respected me for it. He never cried and that struck them as odd. He was always telling them to look after me and take care of me which made me furious.

shimmy21 Fri 30-Jun-06 12:42:53

Hi LW Have been lurking on your thread with much sympathy but no thing helpful to say. You seem a very caring and brave woman.

Today I came across a website that seems to offer a lot of help in this area (and all other aspects of divorce too). I'll try to link it
telling children

Good luck.

shimmy21 Fri 30-Jun-06 12:46:05

Damn -didn't work!

Anyway the website is

Click on child aid and then on telling children (down the side of the page).

jamsambam Fri 30-Jun-06 12:47:07

my ds1 was only 2 when his dad left so it was relatively easy, but now they are 5 and 6 they both ask silly questions like has he died? or is he living on mars?, so i now ave to retell the story a couple of times a week.
it would e so much easier if you told them together, then dad can look them in the face when he says he is leaving, rather than hide behind you. good luck XX

SecurMummy Fri 30-Jun-06 12:47:48

Please don't try to hide your feelings from your children - if you try to be strong about this then they may get teh impression that they have to as well along with a vauge idea that you don't care that it is hurting them, which is far far more damaging to them than pretty much anything else.

If your H won't be there then fine - but make sure you tell them that he wanted you to tell them as he was too upset or somehting like that - this way even though they may never see daddy upset tehy will know that he was IYSWIM which will add to their feeling that they are loved by you both. use his idiocy to yours and your childrens advantage.

Finally -they may be heartbroken by this whole thing - but not forever, children pick themselves up and dust themselves off far far more often then adults can, they just need certain things, love and someone to talk to. It looks like that person will be you, so start it off as honestly as you can.

Hope it goes well for you all now and in the future

Lemmingswife Fri 30-Jun-06 14:52:03

Thank you for all your advice here. I haven't broken the news yet. I want to get it just right (well as right as it can be) & am dreading it so much.
Thanks for the link shimmy21. I will take a good read of it.
This is by far going to be the toughest part of all this.

HappyDaddy Tue 04-Jul-06 12:33:15

Am late to this but I sat my dd1 down and told her that I still loved her the same but mummy and daddy weren't living together anymore. I explained that it meant that mummy and daddy wouldn't be arguing anymore, which would be good and that she'd get two sets of birthday and christmas presents. She was also pleased cos she got a mobile phone earlier than she might have, her best mate had one to talk to her daddy too.

Lemmingswife Tue 04-Jul-06 18:06:25

That was a really positive way of breaking the news, HappyDaddy.
I have now explained to my DS1 that Daddy will soon be going to stay with a friend (as this is what is meant to be happening), but he will still see him a lot & that sometimes when Mummys & Daddys argue a lot, it is better that they live in different houses.
He said "I don't want you & Daddy to stop loving each other, but I don't mind Daddy staying in another house because I can go to Daddys house then, just like XX in my class!"
Thought I had better start to prepare him. I will talk to them again properly as soon as the move looks likely to happen. H is not budging easily atm, but that is another thread!

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