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We're separating - how do we tell the children? Advice please

(9 Posts)
secretskillrelationships Sun 26-Jul-09 22:17:27

After several extremely difficult years, DH and I have made the decision to separate.

Obviously emotions are running high but our primary concern is our 3 DCs. We have no friends who have gone through this so I am hoping some of you who have can give me some advice.

What did you do, right or wrong. How can we support our lovely children?

toadstool Sun 26-Jul-09 23:28:06

I can only speak as someone whose parents split up when I was 6, and on the strength of my memories of what other children my own age (and older) experienced.
I would say that the best policy is to be calm, clear and precise (e.g. 'We are going to separate but it isn't because one of us has met someone else'), to make it very, very clear that the DCs are not to blame and are not to take on the burden of responsibility in this. The second thing might be to avoid giving out too much information: for example, I didn't want to know about my father's wedding to his 2nd wife and I refused to see the photos. That was treated completely calmly and neutrally. Hope that helps. Good luck I hope it works out well for both of you, and for your DCs.

OrangeFish Sun 26-Jul-09 23:43:29

I got some very good advice from Centre for Separated Families. They publish a book called "Putting children first" that you can get from them or Amazon.

I found this book an invaluable advice/tool to set up how our new separated family was going to operate. Including advice on how to tell DS. Try to read it first, agree between you and DH what you are going to do, and then, when you have the things clear (like knowing when one is moving out, which days they will see the other parent, etc), tell the children.

The book mentions that it is better to give the information in a more relaxed setting than sitting them very seriously to inform them is over.

With DS, we told him when he was playing in the bath (mind you, he was 4). He was a bit shocked at the beginning but we reassured him that he will continue to see his dad very often, told him about the "special trip" to his daddy's house every other weekend and about his ne bunkerbed... at that point he forgot he had a mother and became very entusiastic about it all It is almost 2 years now, and so far I can say he seems happily adapted.

I understand this aproach may/will not work for older children, but give the Centre a ring, I think I received excellent advise, and also felt well taken care of (they rang from time to time to check how we were doing, and at that point, that meant a lot to me )

TurtleAnn Mon 27-Jul-09 11:11:57

My parents split amicably when I was little and the split became much less amicable as My father moved on with his life and my mother (with the kids) didn't.

My advice is to get everything written and settled and agreed. If you get divorced get custody spelled out while you have an amicable relationship because once it breaks down things get really bad really quickly for the kids.

mrsjelo Wed 29-Jul-09 14:30:25

My parents also split when i was young. All i can say is that, personally, it was easier being younger when it happened. My parents explained that it was neither mine or my brothers fault and they made it clear that they loved us both and that wasnt about to change.
All you can do is be strong for your children and let them know that you and their father will still be there for them regardless.
Hope you are okay and stay strong

Loopymumsy Wed 29-Jul-09 20:28:20

Message withdrawn

secretskillrelationships Thu 30-Jul-09 14:45:40

Thanks for all your posts. My parents separated when I was 7 and could have written the book on how NOT to do it, hence my concerns.

Things have come to a head and we have told the children. They are clearly distressed but are coping well each in their own way.

In some ways things are now easier for everyone as the worst has finally happened (it's been on the cards for some time). I am biting my tongue if DH annoys me and making a major effort to be as together as possible for the children. We have stressed how important the children are to both of us and how we will always be a family.

He will be leaving next week and we have spent time together this week as a family. I do have some concerns that this might give out mixed messages but the youngest (5) told me that soon it will be his brother, sister and me only and daddy will be going away.

I am trying hard to keep everything amicable outside the family too, so that friends do not feel that they have to choose between us or take sides. I feel this is important for the children too, otherwise it would mean they only see long-standing friends with one or other of us.

OrangeFish Thu 30-Jul-09 16:25:17

"I am trying hard to keep everything amicable outside the family too, so that friends do not feel that they have to choose between us or take sides. I feel this is important for the children too, otherwise it would mean they only see long-standing friends with one or other of us."

I think that is important, we have done it very successfully for a couple of years. THe key for it is not complain about each other's behaviour with mutual friends (our motto was to protect the friends the same way you prottect the children). And it worked fine, and it allowed for us to be friendly, and most importantly for DS to enjoy the company of the two of us together without any stresses, and for us to coparent properly.

However, exH new girlfriend considered our friendship inadequate so I have started to be excluded in get togethers. I feel sad, but it has had a positive effect too... I'm no longer allowing him to take finacial advntge of me

secretskillrelationships Fri 31-Jul-09 12:42:54

OrangeFish thanks for your message. Good to hear it can work, though shame about new GF. You expressed what I was thinking very well when you said about protecting friends. We have a party to go to at the weekend, though, so I guess we'll see how things go then.

My concern is that in being determined to show everyone that we can get along I leave no space for me to be seriously hacked off with him! Unfortunately, we've recently moved and have not made really good friends here, while really being too far away from old friends who haven't stayed in contact anyway. That said, got seriously drunk at a party (first time in a very long time) recently with friends, some of whom know DH, and still managed to keep it together, in spite of some extreme provocation on his part in the days leading up to it. So here's hoping I'll do better than I think!

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