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How to tell the kids without traumatising them for life?(20 Posts)
Dh and I separated in August last year, and only now will me and the dc be moving out. We have divided our time separately amongst them since then, spending alternative weekends with them. Largely, they have accepted this, although dd has asked lots of questions about why we don't look after them together any more.
I am due to move out with them in the next two weeks. Lots of differing advice exists about what to tell them, and I really don't know how or what to say. Dh is vehemently opposed to the split, but has agreed to 'lie' for their sakes and say it is amicable.
The last ten months have been horrendous, and the kids will be happier, but I need some advice on what to say.
Dd is 6yo and ds is 3.5yo. They will spend alternative weekends with dh, and he is staying in the house.
Dd is the dramatic type.
I feel for you - my DD is 8 and I dreaded telling her. STBX refused to 'lie' and give her a neutral message, and saw it all as my fault (as I was pushing for it, despite him being abusive).
I took her out for lunch and told her on my own a couple of months ago. I said that it was me pushing for it (as Dad would clearly tell her that anyway), but that I had very good reasons. I told her I didn't want to go into all the reasons, as clearly I would be saying bad things about Daddy, and that would make her feel awkward.
If he can agree to be amicable about it, then that's supposed to be the best way to do it. But if you think he won't stick to it, then telling them on your own is not a disaster. It allows you to come up with a message which is not negative on their Dad (thereby averting a tit for tat war...), but making clear it's no-one's fault.
The telling them is only the first stage anyway - if anything like my DD they come up with all sorts of questions later on as well. I don't worry as long as she's still talking, only when she gets quiet and angry. I make sure I don't react badly to anything she says, so that she feels able to talk to me about it.
Good luck, you may feel better once it's out in the open.
That's really helpful, thank you. In truth, I would love to tell them on my own, but he will never go for that. He wants to watch me squirm as I 'destroy their lives'.
Just you saying that makes my blood boil! You're not ruining their lives. This is happening, and it's both of your responsibility to ensure it doesn't ruin their lives. Why is it men don't get that, they appear to enjoy watching women upset at their children's suffering grrrrr.
You've clearly caught me on a bad day! If he says one more thing along those lines I'd take them out somewhere for a day trip, tell them yourself, and let him know you've done it, and why.
I should also say - this is a pretty quiet board, but the relationships board is really busy -you might get more views on there
He sounds like one sick puppy! Your well rid!
I would just go for it tbh, take older one out alone maybe?
Phrases like "mummy and daddy are not making each other happy anymore so we are going to live in separate houses"
"We both still love you and we always will"
"There is nothing that you have ever done or said that has caused this, sometimes marriages don't work out"
There are some fantastic books
Mum and dad glue would be about right for the younger one.
I would avoid saying that you don't love each other any more, especially to the younger one
Absolute emphasis on that there is no blame on them.
Their lives have already been dramatically affected by the events that lead to the break up of your marriage, the actual break up, this crazy pretending period you've had. All your doing now is being honest with them.
Give them lots of pauses to think and plenty of opportunity to ask questions and have their feeling heard
Congratulations btw, your new life starts soon, it will be such a relief once it's all done
We have DTDs who are 8 and a DS 2. Although it was my decision to seperate we were in agreement that the kids should not suffer. He initially wanted them and us to see psychologists to tell us how to do it <rolls eyes>! I told him that as I had been through it myself I knew how I wanted to approach it. We sat them down with us one evening and just told them that mummy and daddy still love each other but can't live together any more and don't make each other happy any more, so we are going to live in a different house, that daddy will look after you while mummy is at work (i work abroad) and mummy will look after you the rest of the time. They were upset and crying at first but then we had questions about what furniture would go where which toys in which house etc. They really just want to know the practicalities. They've never been upset or worried about it and have adapted incredibly well (it's been nearly 2 months) I am so proud of them! It was the thought of "the talk" that was worse I think. Having said that STBXH and I are amicable (now) so that helps - good luck, remember children ate very resilient
I do hope we can get to an amicable place. It looks fairly unlikely at the moment.
We've moved this to Relationships now at the OP's request.
Sorry you are going through this OP, its very rough on everyone. At the time I split up with my H I bought a book to give me some ideas of how to handle it. I read Helping Children Cope With Divorce I cant say it was brilliant book though it did have some good in it (you might get better recomendations from other MNers) but there is a value to reading something on the topic as it gives you a lot of ideas, I ended up having a lot of chats with DS that I otherwise wouldnt have occurred to me.
"There is nothing that you have ever done or said that has caused this" Yes, yes, yes to this, and as often as possible.
Also good is "you probably have a lot of questions, if you think of any now, or later, you can ask me and we can have a chat about it"
Its sad when one parent doesnt want to help the transition go smoothly, but your kids are lucky that they have you, you are at least thinking about them and trying to prepare them, which is absolutely the right thing to do.
Well if he wants to make you squirm and in the same breath that would hurt the children, I would tell them alone ahead of time without him around, sod what he thinks he has no respect if he will take delight in seeing the children get hurt.
My dh and I split in a similar sort of way in that we lived in the same house but not really together for months before he moved out. They were I think 4 and 5, so quite small really, and we told them that it was because we were arguing too much. To be precise I think I said something along the lines that Daddy thought it was the best thing because of the arguing because I absolutely did not want him to go and was very unhappy about it and wasn't going to pretend that it wasn't his idea (turned out he was probably right, but that's another story!). But we were very careful to be totally neutral and never told them the reason for the arguing (dh had had an affair).
I don't think they were traumatised, in fact they coped pretty well really (school commented positively). Interestingly it's now many years later and their main comment when we talk about it is more in relation to the arguments than the separation (we are in an unusual position as we got back together two years later, now almost six years ago). If the atmosphere improves once you are in two different houses then I think children are pretty sensitive to that.
Firstly, what your ex says is about him. You are "destroying" his life.
Regardless of the reasons for the split, make sure you are matter of fact, and make it all about you the parents and not the children. Reinforce that you love them very much.
Be sympathetic about their sadness and grief, but they may surprise you by not being upset.
They may well have seen it coming in a way, as they have noticed you doing things apart, and they are now used to it.
Try to be calm, clear and not too sad, nor too upbeat.
DS was 6 when I left ex in worse circumstances and it wasn't the end of the world for him.
All very useful, thank you. I don't think that dh will be so overt as to blame me in front of them, he will just make it obvious that he doesn't want any of this.
It's been a vile ten months, and I can't wait to move on, in all honesty.
Tell them on your own, then you can make sure they are not traumatised. If he would like you to squirm in this situation, then that scenario is not what is best for the children. You do not have to do it the way he says. Go with your instincts.
I remember some of your previous threads I think and he sounds awful, you'll be some much happier out of the situation. Good luck, thinking of you.
He definitely wants to watch me squirm.
Well, don't allow that to happen. Not good for the dcs. Just tell them in the best way you can.
They are so young, it doesn't need to be some big formal announcement, just a chat about how things are going to be.
The important things for them to hear is where they fit in, their bedrooms, their toys, their school, and what will stay the same for them etc
Best of luck
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