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Advice please on how to tell children age 2, 4 and 6

(11 Posts)
Agent31 Wed 25-Apr-12 20:47:03


My husband and I separated a couple of weeks ago. We have been together for 12 years, married for almost 9. Nothing nasty has triggered the split, no infidelity or anything at all. We have simply grown apart, have nothing in common and don't particular enjoy being with each other anymore. I don't love him anymore and after 8-9months of really trying we have called it a day. Although he is more upset than I am, we are fairly amicable, he is still living here but hoping to move out in the next 2-3 weeks.

We have 3 children, DD age 6, DS age 4 and DS age 2. We want to tell them at the weekend, when we are all together and they then have all weekend to ask questions and everything. We just are a bit stuck about how to tell them. We want to make sure to reinforce that we love them both still and that we always be their Mummy and Daddy, and emphasis what won't change - same home for us, same school etc. I guess what is really troubling me is actually opening the convo and how much information are they able to handle.

Hopefully someone can give me some tips, I'm going to have a nose on the threads and see what other info I can find. I guess I may be here for a while now. I'm Tracy, 31 and live in Sussex, I stay at home full time with the kids, but used to work in dentistry. At the moment I'm aiming to do the teaching assistant qualification next September and then go back to work once DS age 2 has started school.


northcountrygirl Thu 26-Apr-12 04:22:40

My twins were 5 1/2 when their Dad and I separated and to be honest it wasn't really that bad. I was expecting a lot more trauma from them which is one of the reasons the marriage dragged on as long as it did.

Like you, the divorce was amicable, and we still have a good relationship as far as the children are concerned.

I sat them down (apart from their Dad - don't know if that made it better or worse) and explained that Mummy and Daddy wouldn't be living together anymore. I said that we still loved them and also that we still loved each other but that sometimes grown ups made each other unhappy. I said they would always be able to speak to their dad on the phone, and they would be able to see him as much as they wanted (as this was appropriate at the time).

They asked a few questions at the time and that's been kind of it really. Over the years, they have asked more personal questions, which I try to answer honestly, but not if it means being critical of their father. Their dad is a good person (who they take after) so I always keep this in mind when discussing the relationship breakdown.

The things that I think have helped the children deal with it all (they are 11 now) are:

1. They like to have regular contact on specific days
2. Their Dad and I still very much co-parent (ie parents evenings, school choices - basically any problem at all with the children we will discuss it)
3. The extended family (in laws etc) are still my family (if taht makes sense)
4. They have their own space in each home
5. I get on well with their dad and their step mum and we'll quite often have a glass of wine and a chat when I pick the kids up/vice versa.
6. I'm pretty open to answering any questions, however bizarre!
7. Maybe the main thing - they have each other.

The main thing though has undoubtedly been the fact that me and their father as still "together" when it comes to parenting them. I know we're not perfect parents, and I'm sure there are things we could have done better, but I really think we've done "OK" with the situation. I know of no other divorce that is as amicable as ours. I know I'm lucky that me Ex is a decent percent, but I think we've both worked hard to keep the relationship as it is.

As you've said your divorce is also amicable, I would really urge you both to try and keep it that way. I've had to bite my tongue on occassion (as I'm sure ExH has) and we've both "given" to the other for the sake of peace, but it has been worth it. In fact exH is so lovely he even looks after my 4 year old daughter sometimes as he says she's the twins sister and he loves having her!

I think there can be a happy ending as long as you keep talking and both try and be as flexible as you can be. WRT finances we were lucky that we both agreed that a 50/50 split was fair (we both worked) so there wasn't an issue there. Hopefully, this will work out amicably for you too, but if not I'd maybe go for mediation rather than the "go for the balls" type lawyer.

northcountrygirl Thu 26-Apr-12 04:39:35

Another thought just came to me..

My son, in particular, keeps asking me if I still love Daddy. I always say "Yes, I do love their dad as he's part of our family, and I love [name of stepmum] because she's part of the family too.

You read all these statistics about how badly children fare when they're from "broken" homes, and whilst I understand that some people have no choice but to leave their abusive partners, sometimes I do think there's another way, especially in cases such as ours. I do not honestly consider myself a single parent, because although I don't live with their Dad we are still a couple when it come to the children. Plus I have the bonus of a step mother who bakes the most amazing cupcakes for the school! (and she's eally really nice) grin

reluctantmpvdriver Thu 26-Apr-12 10:18:23

What a lovely post north country girl. It is great that you can be such good friends. I am in similar situation to Agent31 although have not told H yet that I want a divorce so have to get over that hurdle first. I am hoping that when I do he will be able to sit and talk calmly about how to tell the kids. I have posted before here in the same subject. I read relate's very good book about children and divorce. You'll find it easily on Amazon.

Agent31 Sat 28-Apr-12 20:21:39

Thank you so much for your great advice. We ended up telling them on Thursday and it was pretty horrible. As soon as we said the words 'Daddy is going to live somewhere else' they started to cry. But we did lots of talking about positives, such as daddy actually now being able to do school run, living closer to their favourite park and the beach and after 10 minutes or so they were fine. They went to sleep fine and havent mentioned it since. I'm sure over the coming days questions will come out. He's not actually leaving the house until 13th June, so still quite a way off. That's a whole other convo hmm

greensmurf Mon 07-May-12 08:14:28

Hi. I'm in exactly the same situation as you agent. Although the children and I will be getting a house.

Thinking about the impact it's going to have but I'm going to make this a positive move for them. Going to emphasise on the fact that they will spend time here and at the new house and try and make it a little adventure. And hopefully if they see my excitement then they won't see see it as too much of a negative thing.

I'm fully aware that they will find it upsetting, they are extremely close to their Dad and I am ready for lots of complicated questions but I'm still wanting any tips people may have.

DronesClub Mon 07-May-12 08:24:48

My parents split up when I was 5 and my sister 7. I have a vivid memory of my Dad telling me when it was just the two of us, which neither my dad or mum can recall - I'm a daddy's girl so it could be I invented it to help me feel special - the key thing is I was probably 20+ before either of them acknowledged it probably didn't happen! It was vivid to me so they just smiled and moved on.
I guess by that story I mean to show that your kids will probably remember it differently whichever way you do it. But also sticking together and being consistent as parents is so important. I don't recall either of them ever saying a negative thing about the other - always honest and open but never negative.

isitreallythattime Mon 07-May-12 12:34:50

Hi all, watching closely too. Me and my dp have separated but I need to make next step if telling dc 4 and 10 months that i will be moving out with them. Concerned about reaction as ds daddy's boy and loves his home. At moment imagining melt down and I don't want to eave daddy. God this is hard

livinginCanada Tue 29-May-12 05:37:56

2DS, just turned 5 and 71/2...I agonised about how to tell them and read everything I could get my hands on. In the end, we did it in stages. First in January, when daddy moved out (and a 12hr drive away across the province, to be with his girlfriend), he told them he was moving away to work because his job had got boring. And we told them we were having to sell the family home and move...they found that part more upsetting than daddy moving away, to be honest.
Then this weekend, after a visit during which daddy mentioned that he'd talked to our older son about why he didn't live here anymore, but couldn't remember what he'd said, I sat both boys down and explained simply...that daddy doesn't want to live with me anymore and doesn't want to be married to me anymore. I told them that was what 'separation' and 'divorce' mean. They both seemed very unimpressed with it all and quickly moved off to play. Maybe I was supposed to lie and tell them it was a mutual decision...but it really wasn't and I'm no good at telling lies.

Mummyinggnome Tue 29-May-12 06:13:13

It's lovely to see how you well you guys have handled it northcountrygirl.
I'm the step mum in the equation, but we're 10 years down the line now, and still my dss's mother won't speak acknowledge me and is shockingly rude to my dh. Makes for a ghastly time for the children.
So nice to hear it can be done well!

beezer01 Mon 21-Jan-13 22:28:02

This is my first message on mumsnet.I am so lonely and at a loss as to how to proceed. 3 days ago my Husband of 7 years told me he didnt know if he still found me attractive and if he loved me anymore and he was moving out. The following morning he handed me a letter and left. The letter said he had bought a house in September and needed to separate now. I have no anger in my body and am still numb as he was not the type of man to talk about his feelings. He has been withdrawn for about a year but he always said it was his shiftwork and he was tired. We were only away last weekend for a little break for his birthday and had a nice relaxing weekend. I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old and he now wants to tell them what has happened. As he worked shift work they didnt see him every night but the eldest was asking tonight where Daddy was. They saw him for 2 hours yesterday evening and he had tea with us but has made it clear that the love is gone from the marriage and he is moving on. I am 44 and he is 42. Please can someone give me some advice. I am hoping deep down that he will come back after he has some time away. He did find it difficult with the children, especially after a day at work and coming home to two squabbling children. I was not a bad wife and didnt go out a lot or be a nag. I kept trim and didnt get out of shape. I feel so disheartened and totally at a loss and disappointed with myself. I can keep going during the day with the children and am keeping happy and bubbly around them but when they go to bed at night I just fall apart and want him back so much.

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