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Advice needed please-how to explain to 5 yr old DS why Daddy wants to live with another woman?

(8 Posts)
StableButDeluded Mon 19-Sep-11 00:30:51

It probably sounds stupid, but I literally do not have a clue how to do this when the time comes-as I have a feeling it will very soon.

To give a brief background, DH left me at the start of may after 21 years, saying that he had been thinking about it since xmas (didn't tell me till april though), main reason being that he can no longer cope with my anxiety problems and he doesn't love me any more.

We have one DS who is nearly 6 and when Dh moved out we told him it was because mummy and daddy were having a lot of arguments (we weren't, DH had just had enough) and we we still wanted to be friends, just not live in the same house. This was a pack of lies of course, as I was devastated when DH wanted to leave (and still grieve over him & hate him & love him all at the same time!) but we wanted to do what was best for DS.

Ds seemed to accept this explanation. He did cry every now and then for the first week or two after DH moved out but overall seemed ok. He stays with his dad every weekend at DH's flat.
Things became more difficult for me when it turned out dh had met someone else a week after moving out. He told me after he'd been seeing her for about 2 weeks. He met her through his work.
Anyway, this devastated me all over again and caused a lot of hurt and anger, all of which had to be hidden from DS. at the time I insisted that I did not want DS meeting the new woman as i felt it was too soon and DH agreed.
Anyway, after a few weeks it became clear that DH and this woman were not just going to be a flash in the pan' fling, and Dh started saying he wanted her to meet DS, so I felt pressured and agreed that DH could introduce her as a 'friend' from work and they could just spend a few hours together on the odd weekend at DH's flat. DS sees other male friends from his dad's work, so it seemed an easy thing to tell him.

Now it has progressed to DS seeing her every weekend, and they do stuff together like swimming or the park and DH & partner are planning to eventually move in together and live in her house. I thought this would happen when his 6 month lease is up on his flat in November, but he has told he he thinks that's too soon for everyone. Which I agreed with.

However, this weekend I had the distinct impression that they are both keen to tell DS who she 'really' is. Dh said it's because he thinks DS will soon start asking questions as to why his 'friend' is around every weekend, but I'm thinking thay may be planning the move in November after all, and obviously DS will have to stay at 'her' house when he stays with his dad.
So, how DO you tell a nearly 6 year old why daddy wants to live with another lady? I literally do not know how to explain why, what words to use etc. Do we tell him together, or is that making too much of a big 'thing' about it? Do we say that Daddy loves 'x' and wants to live with her? Because My DS seems to think that although we have parted, Mummy and Daddy still love each other-in whatever way a 5 year old understands love. And when I made the mistake one day of saying that daddy doesn't love me as much as he used to (DS had been asking about who loves who the 'best' and I just said the wrong thing) DS got really upset and cried.

I know that because of my anxiety problems I am probably making much more of this than other people would, but i am worrying every day what to tell DS. I'd love any advice from anyone, whether you've had to tell the same to your children or not.

I should say the OW is really nice (i hate to admit it, but she is) she is genuinely interested in DS and DS likes her. But at the moment she is just a new adult who he sees for a few hours and who fusses over him and gives him attention.No different from my sister or his nana,etc. It's a lot different Daddy living with her and Dh having to spend the whole weekend with her as well as his Dad. DS is very inquisitive, asks lots of questions about everything, all the time and he's going to want to know why Daddy is going to live with her.

I just really don't know how to explain it all to him.

Bogeyface Mon 19-Sep-11 02:02:53

Ime if you make an issue of it then it becomes an issue for the DC. So if you just refer to her as Daddys GF then that is what she will be, its just another name for her. And if they do move in then i would keep it simple and just say that Daddy will be living with X at her house now. If he asks why then perhaps you could say that they want to spend more time together.

If you act like it is perfectly normal then he will accept it as normal. If you act like it is a huge big deal then you are more likely to get awkward questions and upset. He is more likely to worry if he knows you are worried but will be happy and secure in the arrangement if he knows (well, thinks) you are not worried at all, he will take his cue from you.

I am sorry that you are going through this, sending hugs.

MeMySonAndI Mon 19-Sep-11 02:11:03

Agree with Bogeyface... don't make an issue of it, I assume you may be feeling very hurt and keeping a straight face for DS might not be easy, but it is important that if they are going to stay together, that DS and her start the relationship in a positive way. At the end of the day you only want the best for your child, making an issue of it would create a lot of bad feelings and DS would be he most damaged by them. Keep your head high, it is difficult but it will pass.

Mouseface Mon 19-Sep-11 10:05:59

Agree. Keep it as emotion free as possible and try not to make a big deal of it.

This is how his life is going to be from now one so you have to normalise it, tell him the truth as and when he asked questions but don't get drawn into anything about her, IYSWIM. As far as your DS is concerned, he still and always will, love you both equally, it's just that this new adult will be a bigger part of his life at some point.

None of this is his fault, or yours. Just keep it simple.

He may well feel to blame at some point, and wonder why his father has chosen to be with her and not you.

Just be honest, keep it simple and let him know that you both love him dearly.

It'll take time for the dust to settle but you sound amazing and clearly want what's best for you all. How refreshing!

You can get a number of books from Amazon that help children and parents cope with divorce, moving on, new partners and the like.

Good luck xx

MeMySonAndI Mon 19-Sep-11 12:53:41

And as much as you feel like villifying the other woman, don't. I know someone who put her children totally against the new woman even when the dad met her 4 years after the split. The result? new woman has a terrible time, girls are having a horrendous one, their dad is getting distanced from the girls as he can see they are being rude, and who is dealing with all the heartache of this break down? The mum who instigated the problem in the first place. It is heart breaking.

starfishmummy Mon 19-Sep-11 13:03:22

I would say don't make a big deal about it, maybe just answer questions that come up from your ds rather than bringing the subject up yourself.

If you can, then try to talk to your ex about how you will both handle, so that your ds is getting some sort of consistency.

StableButDeluded Mon 19-Sep-11 15:07:51

Thank you all for your advice, it's been so helpful. And mouseface, thanks for saying I sound amazing- I promise you I'm not, I'm still very hurt and an emotional wreck about DH ending the marriage, and I never thought i'd have to have the additional hurt & complications of him 'replacing' me within a week of leaving.

Never in a million years did I think he'd find someone so soon and it felt like a kick in the head when I was already down. So I'm not amazing, I'm still very angry with DH, but I'm just trying to get through it as best I can. And we both just want DS to have a good relationship with all of us with as little emotional upset as possible. I guess it's a good thing that the new GF is a genuinely nice person, she also wants what's best for DS and she knows I have anxiety problems, some of the anxiety now is about DS starting to prefer her to me, etc. She's told me she never wants to take my place, and no matter how much DS likes her he'll never think of her as Mum instead of me. And she talks to Ds about me when they're together. (She's TOO nice, if anything!)

I know everyone tells me that I'm his mum and no-one will ever replace me in DS's eyes-but when you're suffering with anxiety & depression and find it hard to do much, then DS comes home and says 'I love X, I love it when she comes to dad's cos we do pillow fights and I tickle her and we fight dad & play games, etc etc' really hurts me and it makes me want to cry, and it's hard not to think he'll start to want her more than miserable old mum. Oh well, it gets easier I suppose. I hope!

I think bogeyface has completely got the right idea. DS already likes her and spends time with her, so I can see now that the best thing is to just keep it casual and act like them living together is just a normal next step. And as someone else suggested, talk about it with DH so there's consistancy for DS and the three adults are all singing from the same hymnsheet If and when Ds asks questions.

DS did refer to her as 'Daddy's girlfriend' once to me, after the first time he met her. I was angry with DH as we had agreed it was too soon for DS to be told that, and envisioned a sharp phone call later to DH to say 'what the xxxx have you told him?' But then DS said 'well, she's a girl and she's daddy's friend so she's a girl friend'-so I don't think he's quite grasped what a girlfriend actually is!

I like the idea of saying that they want to spend more time together as a reason for moving in. That's nice and simple, not loaded with any stuff about daddy loving her more than me etc. And keeping it casual is good, just tell DS as and when that they're moving in and just give simple answers if he asks them. Yes, I think that makes good sense. Thank you all so much, it really has helped take some of the worry about it away from me.

And just to reassure memysonandI, I would never try to turn DS against his dad or the new partner. As much as I hate what has happened and the anger & pain etc, DS loves and needs his dad, and his dad knows DS loves and needs me. I can sometimes understand now why people feel the temptation to use children as a weapon against the partner, but it's not something either of us would do. It's not right, it's a terrible thing to do and the one who suffers most is the child. If the OW were awful, not interested in DS or nasty to him then obviously I wouldn't want her seeing him, but then as DH said-if she had turned out to be that sort of person ,he wouldn't be with her in the first place because his son comes first. And I know he means that, DS has always been the absolute apple of his eye.

When we talked with DS about Daddy going to live somewhere else, we never put blame on either of us and we made sure DS knew that it was never ever his fault & that we both love him the same and always will. And we'll always be Mum & Dad even though we are not in the same house.

MistyMountainHop Mon 19-Sep-11 15:27:52


no real advice but i just wanted to say, well done you for being so utterly adult and graceful about this. your X has been a shit to you leaving and then getting someone else so quickly. and so many women in your position turn their DC against their dads and make it difficult for them to keep a relationship with their dc because they are hurt and bitter about them leaving not caring that the person that will be damaged and hurt the most is the child.

you are an absolutely amazing woman, your ds is lucky to have a great mum like you

keep your chin up and good luck for the future.x

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