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My son is so angry with me after separation from his dad

(40 Posts)
straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 06:22:04

I just don't know what to do and it is making me very sad. I split up from his dad last year and his dad moved out in March. His dad is one of those types who spends his life feeling sorry for himself - I initiated the split and it was definitely the right thing. He made me thoroughly miserable but son is so angry with me and feels terribly sorry for his father (daughter has said that ex makes a big play of this all the time when they are with him).

I am trying to stay the consistent parent but I am finding it very hard as son completely blames me for the split and I am not sure it is a good idea to explain rationally why that isn't actually the case (son is only 11, I don't expect him to grasp adult relationships).

Does anyone have any tips?

TheRealFellatio Thu 15-Aug-13 06:53:19

Eleven is a VERY difficult age for this to happen in a child's life - especially a boy's.

I don't think there is anything you can do. He is upset that you've apparently ruined his life, as well as his Dad's. He sees his Dad visibly upset and that makes him feel worse. I think men who have had to move out of the home they shared with their children because their wife decided she wanted to leave the marriage will, understandably, be feeling a bit sorry for themselves and will want to keep banging on to the kids that it is not their choice, but their mother's.

Of course your ex is going to make it very clear to your son that you forced him out - because you did. He wants his children to know he didn't abandon them and that he misses living with them. Wouldn't you, if the situation were reversed?

Blaming you and hating you is part of the deal I'm afraid. You just have to try to stay calm and reasonable when he needles you, keep explaining gently that he'll understand when he's older that no-one can tolerate being in a relationship that is making them desperately unhappy for the sake of other people - even children.

Have you tried apologising to him? Saying 'I am very sorry that I did this to you, and that I did this to Daddy. I am really sorry that Daddy is so very sad. It was pretty much unavoidable for me, because I was very sad, but I am sorry that my choices have had to make other people unhappy.'

Maybe that's what he needs to hear.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 07:13:33

I agree with TheRealFellatio. I think it is about the worst age. There is nothing you can do other than as suggested. You can't stay because of the children.

straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 07:30:41

Thanks. Yes it is a terrible age. I haven't apologised, maybe I should. I told them it would be better and in a lot of ways, things are enormously better for everyone other than their father. Dd is far happier because ex dh isn't living their any more. But ds was 'allowed' to withdraw a bit when our marriage was collapsing and spent far too much time on his own in his room and in a way, he now doesn't see any benefit from ex dh not being there because ds was hardly around anyway.

Dh won't bear any responsibility for the marriage breaking down at all - he is incredibly bitter towards me, refuses to even spit a word out to me even for the sake of the children (ie when we are handing them over to each other) so it is all horribly uncomfortable and I imagine ds feels that too.

I will try and sit down with him tonight but he is so not a talking or listening boy either! But I will try!

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 07:34:20

It is all you can do-try. Sadly there are no magic answers. You just have to hope he comes to understand in time. Just remain loving and reasonable.

TheOneAndOnlyFell Thu 15-Aug-13 07:41:00

You see by you telling them that it is better for everyone you are invalidating their feelings and not listening.

You may feel it is better for everyone in the long run, but your DS clearly doesn't. And maybe it never will be better for him, or for his Dad - just for you. And that's fine - that's your prerogative, to do as you must with your life in order that you stay sane and happy. But you must not make the mistake of assuming you act/speak on behalf of your children's feelings in all this. It may help you come to terms with asking your ex to leave by telling yourself it's better for the children, but your son clearly clearly disagrees.

You need to acknowledge that and accept that he is entitled to disagree.

TheOneAndOnlyFell Thu 15-Aug-13 07:42:22

That's me, TRF by the way - just NCed.

DeckSwabber Thu 15-Aug-13 07:46:11

Children often think that it is their fault OR that this is something they should be able to fix.

Its really important that he knows you both still love him and that it is OK for him to feel differently about it and OK for him to be angry. Its also OK for him to continue to love his Dad.

straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 07:49:42

You are right, it makes sense when you explain it that way. I think it probably is better for him (in that he's not in a horrible, rowing environment any more) but he may never see it that way sad

It wasn't the only thing I said to him when we last chatted. If you ever try and ask him how he is feeling or how he is doing, he won't talk about it. He'll just roll his eyes as if to say muuuum!

Back2Two Thu 15-Aug-13 07:50:24

Yes, be honest with him. Don't expect him to fully understand adult relationships but tell the truth and make sure you say it is not his fault at all. He may not understand it all now, but he has his whole life to get on with and he'll reflect back to this time in the future and will appreciate if it was always honest and clear....even if he hates having to "hear" and "listen" now.

I wasn't told why my mum left and just assumed my siblings and I had driven her away. Dad once asked me "did I want to know why?" And I of course said no becuase I was 12 and scared. So he didn't bloody say another word hmm

straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 07:54:06

Another thing that is hard for him is that older dd is very anti dh. He never spent any time with her as a child preferring sports mad ds. Never did anything with her. Now when it was her birthday, he had to ask me what to get her and then didnt give it to her on the right day etc so dd slags off dh constantly. I tell her not to but in many ways, internally, I think she has a valid gripe with him as he just appears not to be interested in her.

Ds gets v upset when dd does this and enormously protective over his father and that doesn't help how he is feeling.

straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 08:17:58

How awful back2 sad

Back2Two Thu 15-Aug-13 08:54:11

Thanks bananas!

It sounds quite difficult with the dynamics between you all. The best thing IMO does sound like quite uncomplicated apology to your son but with a firm assertion that it is something adults had to do. Let him know that you'll do anything you can to make it as easy as possible and that dad is making his own choices at the moment not to speak to you but you hope that all that will get easier.
Speak to your daughter...let her know her feelings are valid too but that it isn't helpful right now to be bad mouthing her dad infront of her bro. You three are all together and he has left. If she needs to express feelings let her do them privately to you (but not indulging in a slag off of course grin)

Not that I've had to do this, it sounds tough. But you bite your lip and just do what you can until hopefully your son will find his groove in this new situation and will realise that you have been solid and reliable all the way through. Maybe he will put his dad on a pedestal. Hopefully you are feeling stronger anyway as you've started to resolve difficult stuff for yourself.

nkf Thu 15-Aug-13 08:58:46

I've been through this and it is very very painful. What helps is to stay steady. Keep telling your son how much you love him. Stay close to him. Tell him it's not his fault. Tell him you're sorry. Tell him you will do your best to make things as good as they can be for him.

My son used to put "I hate you" notes on my mirror. It was the worst pain ever. Worse that my ex's infidelity. But it will pass. Hang in there.

straightbananas Thu 15-Aug-13 09:11:27

Thank you so much everyone. I have been feeling terribly sad about it - like you've all described, it is the worst sort of pain when your children are hurting and you know it is something you have contributed to sad.

I will take your advice on board and keep showing him that I am there and it's alright for him to feel like he does.

This has been enormously helpful. It's been quite emotionally traumatic for me too so I've been struggling to see the wood for the trees! Xxxx

GW297 Thu 15-Aug-13 09:13:39

My parents split when I was 12 and like Back2 we weren't really allowed to talk about it and ask questions.

I would suggest trying to organise some counselling for your son if finances allow and if he doesn't want to go try and make a deal with him to go just once and assure him that if he wants to sit there in silence the whole time that's fine. He needs someone to talk to in complete confidence who isn't in the situation to help him to try to come to terms with the split.

I like the idea of explaining to your son that your children were born into a loving relationship/marriage which you expected to endure and you are sorry that things haven't worked out that way and you and his dad have caused him pain and distress. You understand that he is shocked and angry with you right now and if he wants to talk to you or ask you anything at anytime in the future, he can and you will try to answer his questions fully and honestly if you can.

I agree it is better to split than for children to grow up in an emotionally damaging environment. Best wishes to you and your family.

Viking1 Thu 15-Aug-13 09:51:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chandras Thu 15-Aug-13 10:13:29

Hey, I don't know the reasons why you decided to end the marriage but I'm sure you did come to this decision after possibly many years of mulling over it. The fact the dad refuses to talk to you and keeps playing the victim is what is making the situation worse for everyone involved not that you ended the marriage. Yes, he is entitled to be hurt but I am it takes a lot of hurt for someone to decide to end a marriage so be kind to yourself.

It is true that you need to acknowledge your son feelings, and understand he will be angry with you. Don't think however that 11 is too young not to understand adult relationships. I don't know what happened with your marriage but there are things that you can say that he would be able to understand and which will provide the base to add more age appropriate information when he is older.

I have found out that saying things as simple as "I understand that you are feeling upset, and that you are angry with me. There are many things that cause parents to grow apart and as you have seen, your dad and I were rowing too much about these recently, and although we tried to sort things it didn't work. But it is very important for us that you know that no matter what has happened and will happen in the future, we both will be there for you"

Boys are not remarkably good at having deep conversations but I have found that avoiding "frontal" talking is always a good idea. Try to talk to him casually while you are both doing something else, that way he won't feel you are invading his space. A long car trip to a distant destination is always a saviour provided you have left any gaming facilities at home. I am not afraid to drive for 2 hours to get an ice cream in the beach if that allow us for some precious time in the car when he can slowly open and start talking about what he cares about (be it the last game released or how ungrounded feels towards his dad).

Take it easy on yourself too.

Chandras Thu 15-Aug-13 10:14:02

How angry he feels towards his dad (can't get the auto correct!)

Op - thank you for starting this thread. I am having a very bad time with DS (nearly 8) this holiday over his anger towards me for his dad not being there. I get the verbal I hate you many times a day and it is very hard. I normally lose it actually, so the advice you have had from other PP's is really fantastic. Thank you all thanks

StillaNortherner Thu 15-Aug-13 10:31:33

I have vague memories of mum and dad splitting up and mum taking me and my brother away from dad. I didn't know why she'd done it just that she'd done it and I hated her for it. It didn't help that dad played on this. He told us how much he missed us and loved us and how he was in debt and depressed and how bad mum was. I was horrible to my mum but with a lot of support from her parents and some counselling but most importantly time to learn we fixed our relationship. I have a great relationship with my mum now, I had her there at the birth of my son which was a really personal thing for me. My relationship with my dad is non-existent, he doesn't know me and that's his own fault. I eventually (after cutting ties with my dad) remembered the night that she left him and I understood why but this was years after they split up.

It will take time but be as open as you can with your son and it will be okay. It's just hard for now.

cestlavielife Thu 15-Aug-13 10:33:20

you nee dto acknowledge his feelings and let him let it out.

also i would strongly advise you please go to gp and ask for referral to a family therapist.

i and dc have found it really sueful to have sessions in which to discuss the issues - they will use techniques with your ds to draw out of him what he is feeling and also discuss with you separately how you can help him.

dont let it lie - sometimes some profressional input can really help.

in meantime buy the book how to talk so kids will listen... it has some great tips - as recomended to me by psychologist
www.amazon.co.uk/How-Talk-Kids-Will-Listen/dp/1848123094 also get the teen one in preparation

www.amazon.co.uk/How-Talk-Teens-Will-Listen/dp/1853408573/ref=pd_sim_b_5

cestlavielife Thu 15-Aug-13 10:34:45

and chandras advice is v good - walks or car journeys where you provide a space where he can say something (or not - dont push him) are valuable

GW297 Thu 15-Aug-13 10:38:28

Agree with chandras excellent post and also that the book how to talk so kids with listen is worth a read.

SolidGoldBrass Thu 15-Aug-13 10:48:50

Also, don't blame yourself for dumping your H - he's obviously a selfish cock, or he would be making an effort to be civil to you rather than sulking and whining. In time, with any luck, your DS will come to understand that his father actively made things worse for DS at the time of the split by being incapable of putting anyone else ahead of himself.

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