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How to tell our kids we're splitting up?

(20 Posts)
maisiebabe Sat 28-Jul-12 22:23:30

In a nutshell, we're not compatible. Our kids are 13, 5 and 5 months. I want to split up due to his unwillingness/ inability to communicate, lack of emotional intelligence and conversation, to be interested in me etc and how lonely i feel because of this. We've been down this road several times over our 20 year relationship but have always agreed to ' try again'. I now know that trying again would mean I pretty much lobotomise myself and accept all the things about him that make me unhappy but I think he would fairly happily continue in this unhappy relationship- he's citing how difficult it would be with our house and accommodating our 2 demanding jobs if not together. He's very acrimonious and angry when discussing any if this and doesn't believe there can be any such thing as an amicable separation. I worry about his ability to keep it together with our kids and how to tell them. They will be devastated but I just don't think I can carry on like this...
Any advice? Thanks.

DoingItForMyself Sat 28-Jul-12 23:28:13

So sorry for you sweetheart, I could have written your post a few weeks ago. I too stayed a lot longer than I should have done, mainly because of the pain it would cause the DCs, but you know in your heart that you have to do this.

STBXH wanted to keep it all friendly and just explain nicely that he was moving out, but I was very emotional about it (funnily enough!) and so there were some arguments and shouting before it kicked off for real, that would have given the DCs a clue that things weren't right between us. I think that helped, as it wasn't completely out of the blue.

I think especially for your eldest you need to be honest and open (not brutally so, but children of that age are old enough to understand that you can't live with someone who doesn't communicate and who doesn't appear to care whether you are happy or not.) The 5 year old I would keep it simple "we both want different things and can't make each other happy, of course we both still love you all" etc and the lucky 5 month old will probably be the least affected of all of you.

There will be hard times ahead, the DCs may blame you if there has been no evidence of any wrong-doing by H, and your H may well change his behaviour around them and this will make you feel that your 'version' of events has been undermined or distorted, so be prepared to talk to them about why you feel you had no choice, that you tried to fix it etc.

I promise you that if its handled properly they will come to terms with it much more quickly and easily than both of you and although there will be some problems adjusting they will probably benefit (from the guilt induced leniency and duplicate treats etc!)

Good luck and keep posting on here, there are lots of us in the same boat, sadly. x

MrsVandekamp Sun 29-Jul-12 08:17:14

Im just bumping this for you, I didnt want to start another thread on the same lines and I have my H arriving here in 1hr 45 mins so we can tell our 2 DC (8 & 6) the exact same thing.

I have no idea what to say.

Mama1980 Sun 29-Jul-12 08:25:17

Not much advice I'm afraid but try to keep it age appropriately honest, be ready to answer any and all questions. Reassure them that you both still love them and each other-a phrase my mum used (I was 14 when they split) was that she would always love my father as he had given her me, but they just didn't enjoy living together anymore. At the time that really helped as it confirmed that she didn't regret me iyswim. Best of luck to both of you it is hard but I honestly believe its always better to split and be happy -my childhood would have been very different if my parents hadn't stayed 'for our sake' and split 10 years earlier a lot of damage and pain could have been avoided. X

WaitingForMe Sun 29-Jul-12 09:01:14

I'd like to reiterate what Mama1980 said about her mother saying she loved her father for giving him her. My DH regularly says how important his ex is to the boys because she gave him them. I think it goes further than just saying you love them.

maisiebabe Sun 29-Jul-12 23:43:59

Thanks for your replies. We had another totally hideous discussion/ rant tonight where he called me a nagging cunt- I'm struggling to get past that even though I thought I couldn't be hurt anymore. He is so angry with me. I can't actually believe I'm living like this, all the while keeping up appearances for children & family.
Mrs vandekamp, how did it go with your kids today?

DoingItForMyself Sun 29-Jul-12 23:48:56

Maisie, he sounds like a real charmer, you'll definitely be better off out of this one. Hope you can get it sorted sooner rather than later.

Also wondering Mrs V, how did it go for you?

Soila Mon 30-Jul-12 00:35:03

Hi Maisiebabe,

I just very recently gave the following tips to another mum on mumsnet - hope they help and hope I'm not too late.

Here is what you will need to keep in mind and to have in place when and while you are breaking the news.

Chose the right time. You know your children best so you will know when the right time is. However, before bed is not usually a good idea as this means that they are left with their own thoughts through the night, not the best time to digest such news.

Agree on what you will be telling them and how you will be saying it. As we all know, words carry a lot of power and prepare yourselves for questions. Some questions to anticipate:

Do you not love mummy/daddy any more?
Where are we going to live?
Am I changing schools?
Will I still see daddy/mummy?

Most importantly reassure them that it is not their fault in any way. Really make sure that they get this. Contrary to popular belief, not all children blame themselves but it does happen, depending on age, and they may not necessarily do so right away so nip that in the bud as you speak with them. You might have to revisit this with them again and again.

Be honest. Do not, under any circumstances, give them false hope. It is not fair on them to have to relieve the whole thing again, once they realise that you will not be getting back together ever again. Do not promise them ANYTHING. If you don’t have an answer then let me them know.

Tell them when you are both calm and have the time to sit through any questions or concerns that they might have. Please don’t rush through it.

Tell them when you are somewhere safe, somewhere calm and preferably somewhere familiar to them. This way there are neither new nor noisy distractions. They can concentrate on what is going on here and now. Don’t make it a “special” occasion i.e. take them to the cinema, get them whatever they want and then out to lunch in their favourite restaurant and break the news in there. They don’t need any associations with the news i.e. they don’t need to always see a Pizza Express or a Zizzi restaurant and “remember the time when…”

Whatever you tell them make sure it’s age appropriate and use age appropriate words and language. Little ones might not understand a whole account of what is going on while teenagers may need more information.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell the children to keep what is happening at home to themselves. This is very heavy news for a child to carry. You have off-loaded onto them, they should be able to do it too, to whomever they chose. They need care, attention and support from you and others around as opposed to them looking after you and your secrets. Anyway divorce and separation is like pregnancy, you can only keep it a secret for so long.

Hope that helps.


MrsVandekamp Mon 30-Jul-12 10:17:10

It's went ok as far as it could do I suppose. We spent an hour sat talking with them, explaining as best as we could that things would be ok. H actually left a week ago and to be honest they haven't really noticed as he's been back and here when ive been at work as I work shifts so they are used one or the other of us not been there all the time.
They were devastated and there were lots of tears from us all.sad
They had 3 friends sleepover last night so they were distracted enough and so far they seem ok but I'm just keeping an eye on them and plenty of hugs on offer.

Thank you for asking
I am just so gutted but the waves of emotion are killing me but we will be ok I'm sure.
Just need to stop loving him. He's a dick and what he is and how he lives his life infuriates me but I still love him.

DoingItForMyself Mon 30-Jul-12 13:56:17

If anything is guaranteed to stop you loving a dick its seeing how they behave once you have split up. I'm sure judging by others' experiences you will soon be despising/pitying him. My break-up started as amicably as possible (people on here were saying "wow you guys should write a book on how to split up, that's amazing that you're being so cool and sensible).

However, once he moved out and totally changed his attitude towards me & the DCs I took it very hard and can now barely look at him. (Sorry if that's not what you want to hear - just an insight into the emotional waves I've had further down the line. Hope it will be better for all your sakes.)

Peacocklady Mon 30-Jul-12 19:26:41

A friend of mine told her children by drawing a picture, which would prob be appropriate for your 5yr old and maybe your teenager. She drew her 3 dcs in the middle, then a house with her in on one side and another house with her ex in on the other, all smiling. She then drew a pink heart around her in her house including the 3 kids and another blue heart around ex in his house also including the 3 kids, so that the 2 hearts overlap. This shows everyone happy, dc welcome and wanted by both and receiving double the love. Children can sometimes understand things visually and too much talking confuses the issue. When she did it with hers they all seemed to understand.

DoingItForMyself Mon 30-Jul-12 19:57:33

Ah that's lovely Peacock! Wish I'd thought of that one. Mine revolved around us being two different types of animal which needed different habitats to be happy, which I think helped a bit (well, it helped me anyway!)

goodbaddad Mon 24-Sep-12 10:42:16

Just wanted to say how useful this post and others have been to me. My partner announced it was all over a week ago, after several years of a growing unhappiness for us both. No-one else involved. We had been to counselling and I thought it was getting better for us... but was a bombshell and I've been utterly devastated. I've been worrying so much about how to tell the kids and this site has helped a lot. Thank you all.

ThistlePetal Mon 24-Sep-12 19:13:49

I've just read this for the first time, some really great advice here, thank you. Think this conversation is going to happen in the next few weeks for us, so it is hugely helpful.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Mon 24-Sep-12 19:30:36

There will be hard times ahead, the DCs may blame you if there has been no evidence of any wrong-doing by H, and your H may well change his behaviour around them and this will make you feel that your 'version' of events has been undermined or distorted

This is happening to me a bit (told dc in Feb, only just moving out - yes ^I know^). The last months have been a huge strain and I can't wait to go now. DC1 not sure she wants to come with me yet. Family home under offer but not sold, dh will be here for a bit. It helps to hear that the above is normal. I've been stressed about it, but will try and accept that the dust will settle in time.

I'd also like to reiterate that it's really important to stress to dc that it is not their fault in any way.

We didn't handle our announcement very well. I'd been saying I wanted to separate for ages and ages, but always backed down due to emotional blackmail/threats etc from dh and guilt from me. The time it finally happened, dd2 (9) said she thought I didn't like her 'because I was always sad when she was around') I ended up confessing all in front of both dd and dh. Said it wasn't her at all, that I wasn't happy with dh and hadn't been for ages (he hasn't been happy either, but that's another story, because he would stay regardless).

Anyway, I found out at the weekend that dd2 has blamed herself for precipitating the conversation back in Feb. I was appalled to think she has carried this for all this time. I think I have managed to reassure her now.

There's no how-to guide for this unfortunately. Mine seemed to handle it well at the beginning, less so now. I feel bad about the long period of limbo and hope that all will start to heal and improve when things start changing. The reality can't be as bad as the dread, guilt and fear of it happening.

Huge sympathies to anyone in this situation.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Mon 24-Sep-12 19:34:38

I'd been saying I wanted to separate for ages and ages

NB - only to dh. We kept up appearances for the kids' sake. But I thought they were being affected by the tension, they didn't. So the 'announcement' was to them only, if that makes sense. And it wasn't agreed in advance. But I think it was the only way, because I wouldn't have had the courage to do it if it were premeditated, and he would never have agreed to it. I had to tell the kids to make the separation happen.

Doingitformyself we are amicable..ish. Why/how did it change when he moved out?

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Mon 24-Sep-12 19:35:11

*he didn't. Not with it here, sorry!

susiedaisy Mon 24-Sep-12 19:41:07

I found my dc didn't ask any questions on the day I told them, the questions came out over the following weeks taking me by surprise, so be prepared for them blurting out things over the coming weeks, some of the questions that mine asked which played on their mind was

Does dad still Iove us?
Who's fault is it?
Was it our fault?
Is anyone cross with us?
Are we still allowed to love nanny and grampy? His parents.
Can we still be friends with our cousins?
Will we have to move?
Are we still going to the same school?
We will have enough money to pay the bills?
Will you and dad try again?
Will you have baby with another man?
Will dad come on holiday with us?

I constantly reassured them but they still asked these sort of questions several for a few months.

twostraightlines Mon 24-Sep-12 22:33:40

Similar musings here sad

I wonder particularly when is the time to introduce the notion of wrongdoing?

I ask because my 2 teen dc know why their dad is moving out (he had a long affair and he has roundly failed to address the godawful mess it made) but my 6yo doesn't. I am very aware that he'll learn the truth one day, but when and how?

What to tell him in the meantime that won't mislead him and make the truth even harder to hear?

<group hug>

CremeEggThief Tue 25-Sep-12 11:45:01

Bumping, as next week I want to tell DS (10 on Saturday) his father left for an O.W. He knows we have been split up since June, but he is the only one who doesn't know someone else is involved.
Fucking twat STBXH informed me on Sunday that they got engaged last Friday. angry. He hasn't even set up a postal redirection and I haven't yet filed for divorce. Stupid fucking bastard.

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