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friend seperating asked me for advise on how to tell the kids

(5 Posts)
sickoftoystory Wed 19-Oct-11 12:05:29

my best friend has been going through a bad time, been unhappy for many years and for the past 12 months building up to seperation. They have discussed it and have agreed for him to leave (they have 3 DC under 12) next week over half term, as they think this will be the best time for the kids. She is refusing to be with him when they tell the kids as she sees him as the one pushing the split. He is talking about packing his bags while the children are out then telling them and then leaving as he thinks this will be less upsetting for them. I'm not sure. He is planning on telling them that the relationship is over (not in those words he just thinks they should be clear that this isn't for a couple of weeks). Again I don't know if he needs to go into details. Please advise as I am finding it hard to sit back and watch a potential catastrophe, but don't feel qualified to give helpful advice to either of them.

PatsysDouble Wed 19-Oct-11 13:29:34

We are in a similar position to your friend and I'd be interested to see what people suggest.
Husband is moving out for for a bit to see if we can sort things out (after trying for the last year to sort things out while still living under the same roof) straight after half term.
We have decided to tell them this saturday, so they have this weekend with us all together, followed by a week off school with me around all the time and grandparents too, and another weekend with everyone home - seemed like the most support they could have.
I think your friend should be there too - and I think it should not be when he is about to leave as they will no doubt have lots of questions that want answering (not immediately necessarily, but over time).
The explanation, in my view, needs to be clear and straightforward and not emotive (in terms of the reasons) - and reassuring them that both parents still love the kids unconditionally. She should be part of that in order to keep to the same story if nothing else.

I'm sure someone who knows what they are talking about will come along soon!

sickoftoystory Wed 19-Oct-11 14:09:48

Thanks for that. I agree with what you are saying. that has been my advice. In terms of him just leaving I think he is thinking he doesn't want to lead them into some kind of sense of security by him not going straight away and them hoping it was all a mistake. I don't know

cestlavielife Wed 19-Oct-11 15:37:40

various suggestions - but if you can both sit and talk to tehm so much teh better. having to flit andrun is not thebest choice. tho sometimes inevitable...
www.helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm
www.hartnellchanot.co.uk/our-services/children/telling-the-children.html

this one is to thepoint
www.familylawsoftware.com/splitgen/sp/gn/tellingchildrenseparation.htm Telling Your Children About the Separation

If you have children, be aware that they will remember forever how you handle this moment.

Tell them together. Rachel and Patrick are telling their children together, after they worked out their ground rules. Then Rachel and Patrick will speak with each one separately, listening to their fears and reactions. If only one parent breaks the news, the children could start to hope that the other parent will feel differently.

Give them time. Rachel and Patrick are telling the children two weeks in advance of the actual separation. Some therapists think this is an ideal time. Others prefer 2 to 3 days before. Children need time to get used to the fact that the parents are going to split up.

Be there afterward. Rachel and Patrick tell the children on Friday afternoon, just before a weekend. This gives the children time when both parents are present to process the decision and ask questions.

Be calm. Children need to see the separation as an orderly, rational, mature process, not an irrational or violently traumatic one. If Rachel and Patrick can do this, children will be less likely to act out and become depressed.

Be honest. Rachel and Patrick know that they are not going to work things out. They tell the children this. If this were only a trial separation, they would tell the children that as well.

Be upbeat within bounds. Rachel says, "now we won't be fighting any more." She does not say, "You'll have two homes, and that's better than one." Their children would recognize that latter comment as disingenuous.

Give them space. Rachel and Patrick are letting the children react their own ways and in their own time. The fact that their middle child seems to say little and accept the separation easily does not fool them. They know he will be very upset.

Have followup conversations. Rachel and Patrick are prepared in the following days, weeks, months, and even years, to have this subject come up over and over again. They plan to be patient. Also, they plan to initiate conversations. It is important to tell the children that it's necessary to talk about things, even painful things. And, even in one-on-one conversations, each parent avoids criticizing or blaming the other.

Be prepared for comparisons. Your children will start to compare what they anticipate with what they know of friends' families. The children have a close friend whose father disappeared after the divorce. Patrick assures the children that he will stay around.

Don't raise false hopes. During the separation, Rachel and Patrick have one intense night together. But Patrick leaves before the children wake up. He knows that it is important not to re-unite in front of the children until he and Rachel are very sure that they are going to give the marriage another serious chance. Otherwise, it would be cruel to raise their hopes, sustain their fantasy of reconciliation -- and make it more difficult for them to accept an actual divorce.

sickoftoystory Wed 19-Oct-11 17:04:38

Thank you, this is really useful and I can send them the links.

What about suggestions for how to approach it with a 3 year old?

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