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What is the future of co-parenting like? Will my kids ever be happy again?

(40 Posts)
couchtospecialk Thu 17-Aug-17 02:36:24

I'm absolutely broken at having to get divorced. The heartbreak is overwhelming but my main upset is that we will have to tell our DDs (8&6) and I've read all sorts of hideous things about the devastating effect that divorce has on a child.

Please talk to me about what it was like sharing the news with your DCs. Also in what way has your divorce affected them months/years down the line?

OP’s posts: |
heidiwine Thu 17-Aug-17 06:51:07

I am the child of parents who had an extremely acrimonious divorce. I am also a step parent (but not a parent of my own).
I was certainly damaged by my parents divorce. I was damaged because as a young child all the details were shared, one of my parents was blamed and vilified by the other who did nothing to stop me being used as a bargaining chip or a trophy.
Now my step children are also being damaged because their parents cannot work together to parent them. I am sure that both sides blame the other for this.
So if I were to give you any advice it would be to put your (joint) love for the children ahead of anything else. Challenge yourselves to always do the right thing for the children. This means working with your ex, it means both parents accepting that the way they parent individually is different (not wrong or inferior - obvious exceptions excluded) and it means facilitating the children's relationship with the other parent and never involving your children in disagreements. It means that both parties need to find new ways of listening to their children and each parent should support the other in that. There should be no secrets between houses and no parent should be deliberately excluded from elements of the children's lives.
I know that this sounds like a big list and in the midst of a divorce wrangle it can be so hard to do all these things. Personally I think that divorcing parents should have joint counselling to establish how they will parent their children to lessen the impact on them.

couchtospecialk Thu 17-Aug-17 10:14:33

Hi Heidiwine, thanks so much for that. Sorry to hear your story but fantastic advice. At the moment we're both cooperative and want things to be just as you described but obviously it will get harder as the divorce progresses, moving into separate homes, when either of us finds a new partner, Christmases, opinions in each other's parenting.

Having seen the effects of his parents' divorce on H to this day, I'm determined not to go down the same route if we can possibly avoid it.

Thank you. I reckon your stepchildren are lucky to have you as their stepmum as you'll be able to empathise x

OP’s posts: |
heidiwine Thu 17-Aug-17 10:46:41

Thank you. I am sure that if you can sustain the attitude you currently have then your children will flourish in two happy homes.

Crispsheets Thu 17-Aug-17 10:52:20

I divorced when dcs were 15 and 17..six months before A levels and GCSEs.
I never badmouthed their father. Even though he was vile to me post divorce, I emotionally detached from him
Made sure the three of us had lots of fun. And I was so happy to be alone.
Ds said a few weeks ago that our divorce hasn't made any difference to him. I'm glad he is not seeing that it's ok for a woman to be emotionally abused.

wannabestressfree Thu 17-Aug-17 11:15:52

I am the same as crispsheets. My ex is a knob but I don't Badmouth him to our sons and I have an open door policy. I am flexible
With holidays- I am a teacher and If dates don't work I will juggle things.

It's not been happiness and sunshine the whole way but I have tried and lived alone since my divorce (eight years) I have a long term boyfriend/ partner but I am happier in my own home and two of my sons have autism so I think it works better the way it issmile

Crispsheets Thu 17-Aug-17 11:18:25

My ex is "knob" in contacts on my phone smile

wannabestressfree Thu 17-Aug-17 11:43:49

Lol I would but I leave my phone hanging around....tempting though.

Crispsheets Thu 17-Aug-17 11:48:36

My friend has "wanker".
Small things but satisfying

Fianceechickie Thu 17-Aug-17 11:48:58

It doesn't have to damage them. It sounds like you have exactly the right attitude and what the others have said is brilliant advice. Avoiding acrimony is possible if you are both reasonable and on the same page which it sounds like you are. My DS was only 3 when I divorced (easier age?) and is fine. DSCs were 5 and 7 and have suffered unfortunately due to having heard/seen/witnessed things they shouldn't have.

Fianceechickie Thu 17-Aug-17 11:49:23

Oh and I call mine 'shitface'

Crispsheets Thu 17-Aug-17 11:50:29


MirandaWest Thu 17-Aug-17 11:54:30

My DC are 13 and 11. XH and I split up when they were 7 and 5. We worked out what was happening and then told them and managed to stay matter of fact about it.

We are both flexible where possible and don't bad mouth the other parent (although as mine get older I cover for his not so good points less).

They both seem all right and it was less scary than I imagined.

MirandaWest Thu 17-Aug-17 11:55:43

We have both remarried and the DC have three step siblings. This has also gone fine - we may well have been lucky but I do feel it doesn't all have to be doom and gloom

couchtospecialk Thu 17-Aug-17 11:57:14

Crispsheets, that's exactly how I want to be. I wonder if your son's age when you divorced contributed to him feeling fine about it. Either way it's fantastic. I'll have to think of names I could list him in my phone... It's not knob just yet grin

Wannabestressfree yes I think flexibility and boundaries will be so important. I couldn't even contemplate being with anyone else at the moment and I think it'll be simpler to be alone at least for a while. Good to hear you're happier, I think I will be too. To be honest I don't think I'll ask for my full entitlement. I just want to be secure enough to give the girls a good life but don't want to get rich off him. It would feel like dirty money anyway. Plus I don't want to make him poor as it wouldn't be healthy for DDs to see him struggling and bitter. Anyway hopefully that will bode well for life after divorce.

OP’s posts: |
couchtospecialk Thu 17-Aug-17 12:02:16

Finance and Miranda thank you. Great to hear you have as much harmony as possible. It does sound like not badmouthing is the key. Am determined not to for DDs sake. I'm sure it doesn't have to be doom and gloom though I know the nitty gritty will be difficult. He's in the wrong and I want to walk away with my head held high with the moral higher ground. I can't become bitter. Just want my girls to be ok xx

OP’s posts: |
Crispsheets Thu 17-Aug-17 12:06:42

Find a good friend you can offload to. Its hard keeping a rictus grin on your face sometimes.

CarrieMayBe Thu 17-Aug-17 12:07:29

Couch, seriously, you need to stop thinking that way. Not asking for your full entitlement - why would you do that? You don't know what the future might hold and no judge is going to stamp the consent order if it is grossly unfair to either of you so you can't make him poor but equally, it won't get passed through the court if it leaves you short either.

Don't lose sight of the fact that he has tipped yours and your DD's lives upside down, do you have a pension in your name for example? If not, and he does, then you are entitled to half of that as provision for your retirement. What else will you live off otherwise? You were in this marriage together and it's not about getting rich off his back, it's about coming out of this the other side without all your financial securities - the ones you believed were in place for the future until he did what he's done - being dashed completely.

Aiming for amicable is definitely the best way to go but that doesn't mean giving in and walking away with less for the sake of it. In a few years time you will regret that, like I said you don't know what the future holds and one day you might need that bit extra.

Your choice of course, but don't let the nice side of you overrule what's rightfully yours.

sothisisnew Thu 17-Aug-17 12:25:39

I don't know the circumstances of the split, but I would say that in my opinion talk like 'until he did what he's done' is dangerous. The financial settlement shouldn't be about taking revenge- that path leads to anger and resentment, and in my experience no matter how good you think you are at hiding it, the children will see it and feel it.

Of course, on the flipside of this you don't want to later end up resenting the fact that you took so little. I'd say take your time to really review what you and the DC need, your working hours, future earning capacity, etc and start from there.

wannabestressfree Thu 17-Aug-17 12:29:17

I second that. Please take your entitlement from the start as money is always a ball ache. He still quibbles over uniform money and I had to go to cms in the end. He is a massive tight arse.

You are hardly getting rich off him. I imagine you will have the kids more and work around them? Take what the judge says.

TheKnackeredChef Thu 17-Aug-17 12:35:36

It doesn't have to be awful. I worried terribly about the effect the divorce would have on my DCs (9 and 2 at the time). My fantastic counsellor set my mind at rest when she told me that it's not the divorce itself which does the damage - it's all the other crap that goes with it. The fighting, badmouthing, nasty atmospheres, that sort of thing. Sometimes it's hard to bite your tongue, but I found it helped to remember that no matter what ExH did to me (and it was horrendous, truly), the DCs still had a right to think well of their Dad. I just treated it as a working relationship and tried to be as professional as I could. Friendly, but not friends.

Five years later, the dust has settled and the DCs are happy and well adjusted. I still have a good working relationship with their dad and last year we even spent Christmas all together at home (including my new DP and his GF). I realise not everyone has the luxury of being able to coparent with somebody who's (by and large) a reasonable adult, but if you can put your anger to one side it is possible to carve out a decent, functional relationship from the mess. Half the battle is wanting to, and it sounds like you do, OP.

sothisisnew Thu 17-Aug-17 12:39:57

TheKnackeredChef you guys are heroes!

Could I ask how you came about having a counsellor? Was that something you did jointly?

CarrieMayBe Thu 17-Aug-17 12:56:12

so I get what you're saying about it shouldn't be about bitterness and revenge but it's unrealistic for the injured party not to feel that way at some point. And when I said about him 'doing what he's done' I'm afraid that's exactly how it is, however unhelpful that may be.

In my marriage, we made plans for the future together. We had dreams and aspirations and we made decisions - particularly financial ones - together, based on the future we were working towards.

We bought a new house, our dream 'forever home' however twee that sounds, it really was. Or so I thought. Little did I know that his affair would start just a few weeks after we moved in and that he would leave me 6 months later. I am now faced with selling up and leaving that dream behind, the future I bought into believing we would stay together. The decision we made for me to be a SAHM, with no pension, as foolish as I now see I was being I didn't see at the time because I thought we would stay together.

So yes, if I'm a little bitter and resentful of his choice to do what he did impacting on my life in such a massive way then meh. So be it. I will get over it in time but it's still early days for me and my therapist agrees enough to say she'd be worried if I didn't feel a level of anger and bitterness at this stage. The children don't see it or know about the mess he continues to create.

PavoReal Thu 17-Aug-17 13:17:54

I so didn't want to be a single parent that I ended up staying in what would have been a Mumsnet classic LTB relationship for 2 years too long. I hated him so much I wished him dead.

However, wind the clock forward 4 years since the split and we co-parent so well I sometimes find myself wondering how a regular family unit get through the summer holidays. They are happy with me, they are happy with their one night a week plus (at the moment) 2 days either side with him. We are even going on holiday together at the end of the month all together which I never would have dreamed of. Yes, he is still the laziest person in the world (when I packed his stuff up when I threw him out he still has 4 of the boxes stacked up in one of his rooms) but he makes an effort for our DTs (well, I sometimes have to spoon feed him).
I'm different to you, couch, in that mine were 20 months old when we split, they didn't even notice he'd gone. So I can't help you there, but a separation doesn't automatically mean a damaged childhood. Take care of yourself over the next few months, find a good couple of mates who you can really vent at.

Doglikeafox Thu 17-Aug-17 13:31:54

My parents divorced when I was 10 for several reasons including infidelity and gambling on one side, emotional and physical abuse on the other. I witnessed a lot of this, and was left alone with my 2 younger siblings the day the police arrived to arrest one parent, whilst the other fled. Despite all of this, I can honestly say that I think the ONLY part of the divorce that truly left a lasting mark on me was the fact that my parents used sending me to the other parent's house as a punishment, and made me feel like neither home was really mine. I would constantly hear 'if you do that/ say that again/don't stop X then you can go to your mum's/dad's'.
I think the reason the other stuff didn't effect me as much is because, in spite of all the above, my parent's really are fantastic parents and ALWAYS explained things to me, talked things through to me and my siblings in a way that meant we could understand what was going on around us. They also did their best to remain amicable, and still attend family events together now 10 years later. That was really important to me. I also have an amazing family that kept things feeling normal with my cousins, grandparents and aunties and uncles.

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