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we need to tell the children...horrendous feeling

(46 Posts)
argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 16:00:26

Hi - i was wondering if someone could give me some advice.

After a disastrous few years and going backwards and forwards, seeing every counsellor possible for long periods of time, not talking about it, talking about it, twisting ourselves into a complete state and crying a lot, we have decided to separate. We decided at the beginning of December but as it was our eldests' birthday and then christmas, we thought it best to wait until after christmas to let them know. We get on on a surface level and so could keep it OK for them. He has rented a flat and is already to go and we need to tell the children soon. Throughout all of this i have prided myself on keeping it together for the children, trying to make it as good as it can be, being strong, but when it comes to telling them or even thinking about telling them, i literally can not stop crying for long enough to get it together. I know i need to be strong, in control and dependable for them as they are the victims in this but i literally feel like my head is going to split open with the pain of it all.

I hate that what we (mainly me) have decided is going to hurt them horribly and affect their lives massively, i just hate it, but i can't see any other option. We have tried being back together and the same old issues have come back again and again.

Please can anyone advise me on how to get myself together long enough to tell them, what words to use (they are 10 and 12), and please can someone tell me that this won't ruin their lives and that i am not an evil person? (unless you do actually think that)

This is the only aspect that makes me question if this is the right decision - every other area it is obvious we should split - it just doesn't work and i turn into a bitter, horrible person when we are together which just isnt me.

I just don't know how to get through the next 5 mins, next 24 hours, next week, next year at the moment. Can anyone please help?

Thisisaeuphemism Thu 27-Dec-12 16:03:11

DC will take their cue from you - you need to be calm and matter of fact.
I thought you had to tell them something 'horrendous'? This is not horrendous, honestly.

"Dad is going to move into a flat. He will see you ...often. We both love you. Any questions?"

NotMostPeople Thu 27-Dec-12 16:05:59

I haven't been in your situation although I do have divorced parents. I have seen someof our friends manage their split ups beautifully in terms of the children. I think you should remind yourself that you and your husband are clearly able to maintain a good relationship for the children. They won't be used or caught up in the middle of an acrimonious divorce because you have oth come to the realisation that its the right thing to do and you are able to be civil to each other. We have friends whose children spend more and better quality time with their father since the divorce. You are ideally placed to make the divorce as easy as possible for your children and don't forget that children are happy when their parents are happy. You both will be happier in the long term.

Lots of luck.

VBisme Thu 27-Dec-12 16:08:07

I expect they have sensed the undercurrents, so it may not be a huge shock.
As thisis says, they will take their cue from you.
It won't be the end of the world, it's the start of a new chapter for everyone and will take some getting used to.
The best advice I can give is for you and DH to treat each other with kindness and respect, especially in front of the children.

monkeytennismum Thu 27-Dec-12 16:15:25

How awful for you. I haven't been in your position but my parents split up when I was 11 and my brother 13 so this may help.

The worst thing they did was let staying together drag on and then pretend my Dad had moved for work - we knew what was happening. The best thing they did was never to bad-mouth each other in front of us; even though they don't get on at all. I have immense respect for them doing this, as it must have taken some restraint and proved to me that they were thinking of us.

Your children will find this time hard, but not impossible. If you both get on with your lives and show them that you can move on and up after something awful happens, you'll equip them with a great outlook on life.


ImperialBlether Thu 27-Dec-12 16:17:18

I had to do this when my children were 10 and 8. You're right, it's horrendous.

I sent my husband out to the shops and told him to come back at 7.25. I drew the curtains at 7 pm to give them privacy and said I had something to tell them that would upset them but that it would actually be alright. When I told them, they both ran around the room screaming. It was the most awful time. I let them cry. They didn't want details - they told me they didn't want them and they've never asked since. At 7.25 he came back and they ran to the door crying and then he was crying too.

At 7.30 (this was planned) I reminded them that Coronation Street was starting. I said, "Come on, let's dry our tears and see what's happening to X and Y on Corrie." I was amazed that they did exactly as I said. They watched it and laughed when it was funny. Afterwards they did the usual things they'd do in the evening. They didn't cry again.

So my advice is to tell them a short while before something good happens. They don't want to be crying for hours. They want normal life to resume as soon as possible.

My problem was that I'd been so good at not causing trouble with my husband and the children didn't realise there was a problem. It's easier if they've heard you arguing, I think.

Best of luck. I'll be thinking of you.

ImperialBlether Thu 27-Dec-12 16:18:32

I agree with monkey re not badmouthing your husband and vice versa. I have never criticised my ex for anything and he hasn't criticised me, either. I think that does help a lot.

lilacbaubles Thu 27-Dec-12 16:38:34

Mine were 10 and 12 when I told them we were splitting. We were already sleeping separately then, so things had begun to change. ExH insisted on me telling them since it was 'my decision' hmm so I told them when we were at my mum's (I needed her for moral support). DD1 hugged me and said 'I just want you to be happy, Mummy' and DD2 cried and told me she didn't want me to have a boyfriend/any more kids (I was 41 and had been sterilised anyway) and DD1 reminded her that it wasn't up to her to decide these things.

Ten minutes later it was like it had never happened, we were laughing about something else and life continued. DD1 always asked more questions of the two of them, and has since become increasingly aware of her dad's faults since she has been on the receiving end of his emotional abuse now that he can't get at me any more. DD2 still buries her head in the sand, it's really difficult to find out how she feels.

Unfortunately, although we chose a new house (ExH refused to leave marital home, 5 bed, 2 bath worth £800k with no mortgage) just a few weeks later, the purchase took months and we lived in the marital home for 7 months after that initial conversation and 1 year 4 months from the end of the marriage. We moved into a very small 3 bed semi (and I took him to court and was awarded the rest of the money he owed me) and were very content as we were. ExH told me I had ruined his life, but we are both in new relationships and I think he would reluctantly admit that it not the case.

The girls are fine...although they had very few friends whose parents had split, there have been several in the last few years and they are happy, well adjusted and successful at school. I still have to deal with the emotional fall out of the situation we are in, e.g. DD1 and her relationship with her fuckwit father, DD2's lack of communication. However, they are now teenagers and I will never know how much of their angst is normal for this stage of their lives!

Hope it all works out ok for you.

argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 17:42:24

Thank you so much for your responses - they have just been so helpful i can't tell you. I think I might have to print them out to look at at bad times. You are all absolutely right i think - being calm and not dragging out the pain but being open to questions is what i am getting from you. I think i can do this, as long as i can keep in my head that this will not end their world, i am truly sorry that it has to happen and that it will effect them, but that they will be OK. I just have to keep chanting that to myself over and over. Its quite scary how hysterical i can get when i think about it when i am on my own and i know this will be difficult to stop when the boys aren't with me. it just feels so awful not to have them with me - feels unnatural - but maybe i just need to actually get a hold on myself and give myself a break about it. Its so hard to let go of any control of the boys and their dad is quite dismissive of any planning or any routine which i find really difficult to deal with - but maybe thats my issue. i certainly know they won't come to any harm and they can certainly speak their minds. i just want to be there as their protector and comforter and i won't be able to do this when i am away from them. its the one thing that makes me want to stay in the relationship but i just know it doesn't work. argh - my head hurts.

mummo Thu 27-Dec-12 17:59:54

I can't help, but I am about to start the same. Or should I say end of my family. My children are 3.5 boy and5.5 girl. He told me on the 19 th of dec we should think about divorcing. Xmas was awful. I logged on for some advice and I'm so glad I did. Like you I don't know how to tell them. But I am squeezing your hand ,because I feel and know your pain. Big hug.

ratbagcatbag Thu 27-Dec-12 18:09:01

My DSS parents split wen he was four. He's now 14, we all get on fab (as in me, DH, his ex and her DH) my DSS has just come bounding in laughing, he's really settled with it all. Don't bad mouth the other one and my DH says he gets far more quality time now as he doesn't take his ds for granted. It really is fine and he's really really happy.

silversnow Thu 27-Dec-12 18:24:08

I had to do this about 3 months ago (DCs 12 and 9). It was painful for us all, but it was also a relief to actually be telling the DCs, so in the event I was calm. Our eldest had definitely detected that something was afoot.

The advice I ws given was for both mum and dad to tell them at the same time, and discuss who says what... I realise this isn't possible for everyone though. It did work well for us, they could hear us both saying that it definitely wasn't their fault, that we would both answer any questions they had, that we would both continue to love them, just in separate homes. We all cried, and that was good in a way too, as it showed that it would be ok to be upset about it, and that we would all have big feelings to deal with.

I agree that once you have told them, it will be a relief for everyone if there is something for you all to do, whether it's watch TV, play a board game, whatever. We actually planned a run out in the car for lunch and a dog walk, and this gave the DCs lots of opportunities to ask questions (and amazingly, within about an hour, start to get very excited about all the positive new things that might happen to them, like new bedrooms, maybe different kinds of holidays etc). There's no doubt this was tough for the adults, but well worth it.

Good luck to you - you have clearly reached the end of the road with your relationship, and I hope it comes as a huge relief for that to be out in the open, and for you to be able to start to move forward x

argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 18:35:25

it is such a relief to hear these stories - i think my heart palpatations are easing a bit...and considering they've been hammering since december 1st so thats saying something! in a rush getting tea but will def come back asap. thank you thank you thank you

Alittlestranger Thu 27-Dec-12 18:48:03

The only thing I can add is to make absolutely clear to them that a divorce is you and your husband splitting up, and not your family breaking apart. This isn't about "mummy and daddy", this is about a man and wife. I'm not entirely sure how you convey that to them, but they are old enough to begin to understand adult relationships.

The worst, worst, thing my mum said when she and my father split was the he didn't love "us" anymore. It took me a long time to appreciate that I was nothing to do with the success of their relationship.

dondon33 Thu 27-Dec-12 19:05:58

I, like you OP, was dreading telling my DC (14,12,9 at the time) my heart was in my mouth for weeks but when me and the exh sat them down and told them they were so calm about it.
They knew things hadn't been 'right' for a while, the hiding it had got worse over the months previous to telling them.
They sat, all in a row, on the sofa, took a few minutes to process and think about it, they asked a few questions such as 'when is this happening?' 'Where will Dad live' 'can we go and stay with him there?' within 30 minutes they were saying 'Dad, that means we can have dog now YESSSSS!!!' (I'd never let them have one due to allergies) smile
It will all work out Argh try and stay relaxed, you'll get through it, honestly the sooner it's done the better, good luck x

Mynewmoniker Thu 27-Dec-12 19:18:12

Ensure the kids know it is NOTHING to do with anything THEY have done that has caused this.
Tell them how much you respect each other and about the happy times you've had but say the closeness you have felt seems to have gone and that both of you feel this is the best for all.
Never use them as message takers or spies when sharing time.
Continue to talk to the kids about your spouse in a positive way.
Allow them to love their other parent no matter what you may think.
Don't use the kids as sounding boards or partners in loco when the other may have annoyed you. They may seem to take your side but they will probably end up feeling guilty, disloyal and unhappy.

arequipa Thu 27-Dec-12 21:14:51

Leave them space to ask questions and say how they feel over time.if you are too matter of fact and quick to move on they will sense its hard for you to discuss and suppress questions. My parents split when sis and I were 10 and 12 and it was always presented to me as fait accompli,no discussion, we re all fine....I wasnt.

argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 21:36:14

hi again.

i think this is so hard on many levels, there's the trying to come to terms with it for your self, the guilt about the children, the worry that they'll hate me either now or in years to come, the feeling that i have let everyone down so badly. i just want to hide really or start all over again. i am so glad to hear that there are some good stories or at least healthy experiences about this. this 'kind of thing'(?) doesn't happen in my family so telling them all will be awful as well. my main concern is the kids though and as long as i can hang on to the thought that this will not damage them in a terrible, terrible way if we manage it OK then i can be strong for them and collapse when they are not there. i do sort of feel like i have been lying to them over the past few months and in addition, my husband has decided to retreat from everything and everyone, his way of coping i guess but it has been very hard work as i have had to be extra OK for everyones sake. Over christmas i had a couple of afternoons were i essentially collapsed in bed for a few hours and literally felt like i had been hit by a bus. this terrified me as i have always been able to pull it together and i just couldn't this time. awful. i still feel really weak and i think this is making me even more tearful. the slightest thing will set me off (which makes family time difficult!).

I do hang on to the thought that when the talk is 'over with', we can at least move on a bit but having said that i would move heaven and hell to avoid it! i just can't get over the fact that our relationship break up, which is our responsibility, is going to cause pain to my gorgeous kiddies - i love them so much it seems just against instinct.

Bulletproohmum Thu 27-Dec-12 22:29:36

I'm holding your hand in empathy. Dh and I decided to split in September. We are still living under same roof until February. Mine are 7,5,2. We had initial conversations with the eldest but have left it for a while to discuss further. I feel,such guilt for breaking the house.

argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 22:33:09

you are a better woman than me Bulletproof - i have found a couple of months difficult. you can only do what you can to stay sane and functioning sometimes but please do look after yourself until Feb. will be thinking of you.

SorryMyCandyCaneLollipop Thu 27-Dec-12 22:46:23

I second the poster(s) saying plan something good to do after. We told our DC (4 and 6) together, and then I planned to take them to visit a friend of mine who has DC and dogs for us to take for a walk as a distraction.

Some people advised me to be calm, some advised me that it was ok and natural for them to see us upset as it was a sad time. I was quite calm in the end, it was a relief to finally tell them.

I was also advised to emphasise the difference between romantic love (which can change) and parental/sibling/family love (which is constant) which I started doing a few weeks before, to prepare them.

It will all be ok

SorryMyCandyCaneLollipop Thu 27-Dec-12 22:47:45

Maybe you could see your GP for some suitable stress/anxiety short term medication which could help you get through the next few weeks?

MushroomSoup Thu 27-Dec-12 22:48:13

Can I just say that I've been there too, and you have had great advice so far. You will be calmer than you think. The key message is 'we won't be husband and wife anymore but we will always be mum and dad'.

I can't say it didn't hurt at the beginning when my DCs weren't with me, but now I quite enjoy my child free time; I do my housework and all the other boring stuff as well as having a social life, and then when my DCs are with me I have time to focus on them completely. It's true that you will find you have more quality time with them, even if it's less in quantity.

I completely understand what you say about your DH having a different outlook on child rearing than you! Sometimes XH drives me mad with some of his decisions. However I bite my lip. He can parent anyway he chooses to parent: as long as my children are loved and safe when they are with him - which they are - then he can parent then however he likes!
It will be easier once you speak to them.

And then you can work at becoming fabulous again.

DistanceCall Thu 27-Dec-12 22:49:39

You know this needs to be done. It will be hard, but not as hard as you think now -- all the other posters have given you some great guidelines to follow.

Even though it doesn't feel like it now, you're doing the right thing for your children. Being brought up by parents who don't love each other is horrendous, and would harm them in their own relationships in the future. Once you have the talk, they can be happy with two parents who are happy in their own separate lives.

argh555 Thu 27-Dec-12 22:58:07

thanks so much mushroom - i would love to be fabulous again! i just hope i can get through this with some joy intact - it kind of feels like its all been sucked out of life at the moment.

I think i will plan something for afterwards - i was going to tell them in the evening but maybe afternoon is better so that there is time to do something distracting before bed. i want to give them some room to ask questions and be upset or whatever they are feeling but i am also aware that i don't want them to have my upset or have to feel anything they don't. my husband is a super emotional person so its going to be a difficult balance.

i just need to keep it together when we tell them and then i can sob afterwards i needs be - feel like i need to put extra tight clothes on or something as if keeping myself physically in will help keep the tears in! Maybe an elastic band on my wrist or something weird might help.

i have had some such brilliant ideas on here - i am so so grateful and will definitely take them on board. i will really need to work at the dignified silence about my husbands parenting as it is so different to mine but i know my children absolutely love him and have a fantastic time with him. i actually think their relationship with him will improve as he may put his flummin phone away and come off face book when they are there for once!! (he is mid 40's). oh dear, dignified silence failed. Will bite my lip too.

We will see what tomorrow brings... thank you so much all - you have made me feel virtually human again.

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