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How to support the kids through their parents splitting up.(9 Posts)
My DH and I are separating, as good friends, with the intention of supporting the children in seeing us both as much as possible, living round the corner if possible, with me as primary carer.
Any advice on what to tell them, when to tell them, whether it's better for them to stay with us night about or for a week at a time each etc would be appreciated. They're age 3 and 5, and both happy, accepting little souls. Noone will be moving out til after xmas, and we are undecided whether I'll move out with the kids, or my DH move alone. This is because my DH works from home and this is his business address/base.
So I'm just looking for other people's experience, should I stay with them in their house, or will a local move to a new permanant address be fine, with visits home to dad? We'll have each others house keys and I can put them to bed at dad's if he has late meetings etc., do we need to agree definite custody or can we be flexible to the kids wants? How do we provide consistency when letting them stay at different houses every five minutes?? When and what do we tell them??
Thanks for your thoughts.
Ah, will be interesting to read the replies as DH and I are currently in the same situation. He announced he is leaving last week but we are trying to work out what is fairest on the little ones. He is hoping ot move locally and wants shared access, but i'm not sure what is best for everyone.
Just a thought, I have recently read about a 'family nest' model where the children stay in the house and the parents take turns living with them. I liked the idea.
hmmm, I have a feeling that would just be 2 houses for me to clean!
I saw a great quote today in the NY times regarding marital problems and divorce:
Its not appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents happiness. Not unless you want to create co-dependents wholl spend their lives in bad relationships and therapy
I'm sorry - but I think that is nonsense and a very simplistic observation from the NY Times. Every child reacts differently and situations are complex. I am close to my mother and my daughter is close to me. We all care about one another happiness. How could you not? But none of us is co-dependent.
But I think that talking to the child/children is the main thing...being gentle and listening to their point of view.
Unfortunately my OH left abruptly, spent six weeks not even asking about his daughter, getting drunk, dating other women. The harm was done and my daughter - at 15 - has decided not to have anything to do with him. But if two parents behave OK - I have seen it work. Sadly not in our case.
We are on the verge of telling our DCs (12 and 9), so will post on here to share our experiences.....
Our plan is for kids and I to move out if H can afford to buy me out of the family home, and I'll buy somewhere fairly close and within walking distance if possible. We have agreed he'll have them staying over about one third of the time, with extra evenings for tea/activity ferrying etc. Hoping to build in lots of flexibility so kids can suggest changes and feel like they have a say in where they go and when. So far so good.
Interesting quote from the NY Times there - I read it as meaning that parents are responsible for their own happiness and that of the their children, but that children are by their very nature self-centred and not responsible for the happiness of their parents.... I think that's about right. I agree that talking to the kids whenever they need to talk is the right approach, particularly so that they don't feel that they are to blame, or responsible for others' happiness or lack of it. Can't see that that would "cause" co-dependency though, I agree with punk that it's not quite as simple as that!
I'd recommend a book called 'The Guide for Separated Parents: Putting Your Children First'.
As your children are quite young I would probably wait until the move is imminent and then both tell them together. How you word it is up to you but it's good to give them some sort of reason why it's happening and to make sure you tell them it's not their fault. And then tell them where they will be living and when they will be seeing you/their DF so they know where they stand. Might be helpful to put up a calendar with the days clearly marked when they are at each house. Personally I think it's good to have a routine and stick to it every week but my ex and I aren't the best of friends so your situation is different.
We have found consistency and reliability very important. Also we don't discuss our relationship with the children or bad mouth each other to them. Telling your kids "mummy's upset because daddy was mean to her on the phone" etc is not a good idea however much you will feel it's being honest at the time.
Kids do like to have a sense of where their home is and for it to be one place which makes sharing them equally between 2 houses hard on the kids, plus when they get older there is more potential for things to be at the "wrong" house for school and hobbies.
When they become teenagers they also won't want to be shunted back and forth between houses and like most teenagers won't be wanting to spend much time with their parents anyway.
It is hard. You also have to realise that young kids particularly can be resistent to change so if at the end of their time with you they are reluctant to go to dad's and vv it is more the change they don't like rather than the other person and you do have to push them to go as long term their relationship with both parents is more important than their dislike of change.
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