What can I say to my daughter?(14 Posts)
This is my first post although I have been lurking for a little while.
I have recently separated from my husband, he moved out three weeks ago. We were married for 14 years, together for 21 and have two daughters aged 11 and 8.
This was my husband's decision - I wanted to save our marriage but he had made up his mind. I think there might be someone else, not a full blown affair but perhaps someone waiting in the wings. I doubt he would have had the courage to go otherwise.
We presented it to the children as a joint decision.
My eldest daughter has been very upset the last two nights. She keeps asking me why Daddy has chosen to leave us and wants Daddy to come back. She is also worrying about Xmas, saying she won't be happy at Xmas and why can't we all be together. I hate seeing her so upset and it is really hard for me to explain why Daddy has left, because I found it hard to understand myself.
Has anyone else been through this? I want her to know that it is natural to feel upset and to encourage her to share her feelings with me, but I am struggling with what to say as I cannot possibly justify my husband's action to be honest.
Thanks in advance
Sorry you’re going through this - and so recently too... how amicable is your split? Can you tackle questions like Xmas together with your ex? Have you worked out when he might see the kids so they can feel he’s still very much part of their lives or is that something you want to settle later and legally?
Ps - by amicable, I mean how civilised are you together as I know this has come from him and not you
To be honest we are being remarkably amicable because although I am angry at him, I realised he wasn't going to change his mind and so there is no point wasting my energy in being angry.
All my focus has been on the children. For Xmas we have agreed that the girls will be with me but he is going to have them for the week before Xmas and will take them to his parents. I have tried to sell it to the girls that they will get two Xmases.
Although we are able to be civil together in front of the children, I don't want to spend Xmas day with him, I want to be with my family.
I just can't bear seeing my daughter in bits. She keeps saying 'but we're nice Mummy, why doesn't Daddy want to be with us, we're his family'. I am finding that difficult to deal with
Sorry I should have said that we have agreed that he will see the girls every other weekend and for the moment, he is spending the weekend with them at our house to minimise disruption for them. And because he has moved quite far away from us
OP I think you need to be honest with them. Tell them you don't understand why either. It isn't right that they think this is your idea as much as his.
Show them that you are sad, but that it's nothing to be scared of, and that it doesn't mean you will never be happy again.
Firstly, well done on your attitude on being civil with him. It’ll be very grounding for the kids in later years.
It sounds absolutely heartbreaking to hear your daughter say that about her dad. Why has he moved so far away? That seems selfish to me! Will he have some time in the week where he can be closer and do drop off / pick up from school and tea time with them? (Out so you don’t have to see him and then drop them to you) it seems a bit unfair on the girls (and you to be honest!) doing everything else and he needs to step up to show them he still loves them as clearly they’re not believing that right now. How’s your youngest with it?
Re Xmas - good plan. I’d also do as previous poster says, you can be honest and say you don’t know - you don’t have all the answers after all. I know you want to provide all the solutions but sometimes you can’t and you also need time to process what’s happened. Have you got family near?
Having recently been through this, I would just keep saying "daddy does love you very much and hasn't actually left you, but we just can't live together any more" or words to that effect. It's good that she's talking about it, my 11 year old tends to bottle it up. Stay strong.
Poor lass - and poor you. I would say to her that her Dad decided that he did not want to stay married to you; but that you both love her as much as ever and that will never change. Tell her you too feel sad that he has made this decision, but you cannot change it. Tell her it is difficult for you too and that you need to help each other to get through this time when you are adapting to something new.
Tell the school so they know to keep a special eye on her.
How hard this all is for you, wanting to make sure your DDs stay secure and happy, whilst dealing with your own emotions about it all. I do not think there is anything to be gained by lying and saying it was a mutual decision. They need to know the truth.
The hard thing is you can't fix it. TBH 3 yrs down the line I still get questions from mine occasionally as well as I wish you would get back together. I just tell them that's not going to happen - nicely of course. You have to be honest in an appropriate way.
I guess the issue with telling dc the "truth" is how far that should go. I'm currently in discussion with my oh about what to tell dd, 8. I did not instigate the divorce and so I am the respondant. Legally it will be my "unreasonable behaviour" that caused the divorce. I do not want my dd to know that, but nor does my ex want her to know that one of us wanted a divorce while the other wanted to keep trying. I'm not happy with the "we decided together" line because we really didn't. But it may be the only line we can take and keep things reasonably amicable and tolerable. Hurts like hell, and I dread her sad little fac, and tough questions to follow. She is a very happy little soul, most of the time, and she loves us both dearly.
Thank you all for your replies and helpful advice. I am trying to be as honest as possible without totally slating my husband. My DD just can't get her head round it.
My younger daughter is just not talking about it much and is carrying on regardless. I am sure she is upset but she has been quite matter of fact about things, asked questions about practicalities and then kept v quiet about it all. In a way I like the fact that my older daughter shares with me as I know that is how she likes to process things, but usually I can say things to make her feel better and so I don't like not being able to fix this tbh.
My H has never been a hands on Dad and the girls are used to doing things just with me. We are a tight unit, the three of us, but my older DD is now romanticising the family times and of course Xmas is one of those.
Thank you for replying, it is so nice to not feel so alone
I made the decision to end our marriage, and was honest with dcs. As far as they know, daddy wanted to take a different path, and I wanted a different path in life, and one of us would've ended up unhappy if denied their path. With divorce, we get to create two happy homes and they get the benefit of both. I think it's good to be as honest as possible, and would also recommend that you speak to their school. When I spoke to theirs, I found out there was so much support available. They both ended having weekly play therapy sessions in school and benefited from having someone completely removed from the situation to speak to and confide in. Yes, don't try to have all the answers. It's good for our children to witness vulnerability (within reason) and learn with us as we navigate the ambiguity of separation and divorce. Good luck!
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