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How do the kids cope?

(26 Posts)
Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 00:00:50

DP and I are going through a very rough patch however upon reflection I think this has always been our relationship and it's just coming to a head. I don't want to go into the details, no violence, just verbal abuse and general laziness that I have had enough with. I have been Googling children of divorce and it just breaks my heart. Our kids are both under 5 and the articles all say that toddlers fare worst because they don't understand, blame themselves and develop attachment issues.

After leaving your DP, can anyone give advice on how your young children coped? Any regrets?

DickCrack Mon 31-Mar-14 00:03:50

Oh god I hope they do cope. My partner walked out on me 3 weeks ago having revealed his affair started when ds2 was 4 months old. Ds2 is now 3 and seems relatively unaffected in comparison to his 5.5 yo brother who is very upset.

mousebacon Mon 31-Mar-14 00:07:31

This is exactly what keeps me stuck here, hiding in the spare room, I don't think my eldest would cope well at all.

It's easier to just keep plodding on. sad

Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 00:12:06

That's what scares me. It is so complicated with children. I don't want to ruin them by breaking up the family for what may be a selfish reason (not happy and thinking the grass is greener or even better solo) but I also think I might be exposing them to a dysfunctional relationship which I don't want them to repeat. I love them to bits so I am factoring them into my decisions.

LineRunner Mon 31-Mar-14 00:13:21

My ExH left us when the children were 5 and 3. The head teacher at their infant school told me they coped incredibly well. I think it was down to not slagging off their father in front of them, encouraging contact (with a fixed grin), letting them carry on and enjoy seeing extended family, loving them openly and massively, and biting the bullet on the financial front.

Lweji Mon 31-Mar-14 00:19:16

You have to consider that in an abusive marriage, the children suffer too. Even if the abuse is "just" verbal.

The longer you leave it, the worst. Because they will probably have been emotionally damaged within the marriage.

Mitchell2 Mon 31-Mar-14 00:30:10

My parents had a horrible marriage (both as bad as each other), finally they called it quits when I was about 8. I can honestly say it was one of the best things that ever happened. Unless you are a fantastic actor kids pick up on things - and if you or your partner or both of you are not happy, it's better IMHO to move on than continue.

whattodoforthebest2 Mon 31-Mar-14 00:56:38

One thing that makes a huge difference to how the children handle a split is how the parties behave afterwards in relation to access and finances. Unfortunately, even with the best will in the world, plans to manage these issues in a mature and adult manner can go pear-shaped. By then, it's too late - you can't back-track and you're left with two parents at loggerheads. That's when all the 'issues' kick off and the children witness all the things you wanted to protect them from.

Obviously, good communication is key here, but probably facing the problems you have early on is better than letting them fester because the resentment will have built up and it'll be less likely to end amicably.

summermovedon Mon 31-Mar-14 07:09:02

Mine were 2 and 4 when their father left, he left me unable to even buy food for them (I was a SAHM) and barely sees them, when he does have contact he ladens on the emotional blackmail. Yet, they have never shed a tear for him and are well rounded and happy children now. I think although I had no control over his behaviour, I did all I could to make their lives full. We live near close family who adore them, I give them firm boundaries, and they are in no doubt that they are truly valued, loved and safe, and that I will never leave them.

In a bad marriage the children suffer immeasurably. And I have no regrets that I am not still living with an abusive drunk.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 31-Mar-14 08:51:04

Whether you stay together or part company is immaterial really. What affects your DCs is how you behave i.e the environment they live in. If they are stuck under the same roof as you listening to verbal abuse it's very stressful and damaging . If you lived apart and were badmouthing each other that would also be damaging. Living with you and watching you fight, they will blame themselves, they may develop behavioural problems to get your attention and they can go on to have warped ideas on what constitutes a healthy adult relationship.

So don't just Google 'children of divorce', Google 'children of warring parents' as well. Get the full picture.

If you part company behave decently towards each other and the arguments stop then your DCs are likely to adapt quite well.

Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 13:43:38

Thanks all. This helped. Google does always make it sound awful. thanks

BertieBotts Mon 31-Mar-14 13:49:03

My parents split up when I was 6 and I always maintain that I was not damaged by the split. What I was damaged by was my dad being unreliable and swanning in and out of my life - which I'm guessing, would have translated into some other kind of damaging behaviour if my parents had stayed together. I think if my dad had been around, been a constant, but not lived in the same house that would have been perfectly fine. As it is he doesn't seem to care and even now I'm an adult, only came to half of my wedding. It hurts but that's life.

Children adapt, they do far better when they have one stable home, even if their other home is less than stable - when someone unpredictable, unreliable and abusive is living in the family home it is definitely worse.

BertieBotts Mon 31-Mar-14 13:54:45

It's bollocks - attachment issues happen when parents starve their children of affection, in old-fashioned orphanage type situations when there is no main carer, or when children are suddenly and without warning removed from their parents. Unless he buggers off with no contact at all, this isn't going to happen, you start off with contact little and often and then stretch it to longer periods spent a few days apart which is easier to build a life around, for both of you. Secondly, even if he did disappear completely (which you have no choice over), they would still have you, which is a huge bonus in terms of attachment. Thirdly even in cases where children lose both parents suddenly, if they have been appropriately and affectionately cared for up until this point, the damage would be less. Even if worst case scenario he decides not to see them for whatever reason, it's not going to have the devastating effect that you imagine. It will hurt them of course but it's unlikely to harm their development forevermore.

PeppermintPasty Mon 31-Mar-14 14:24:03

I'm over five months post split, at my instigation, following verbal abuse, sneering at the children, taking us for granted, blah blah (by him, I should add!), and I can happily report that my 7 and 3 yo children are absolutely fine.

This was the thing that was holding me back, I was very worried how it would impact on them, their dad moving out etc. But I just couldn't ignore the awful atmosphere at home and the fact that that was having a bad effect on them too.

Now, our home is peaceful, and we have lots of laughs and silliness. There are the usual stresses too, and I'm bloody busy, and yes, not the greatest in that I shout too from time to time. ("get your coat on for the 15th time" type shouting I might add).

Their dad didn't react well at first, and in fact went totally off radar for nine days (turning off his phone/not calling/ not seeing the children) to get at me and to try to get me to chase him. Well, I didn't. I thought if he was going to be that kind of father, better they deal with it sooner than later.

I'm glad I did it that way as he realised he couldn't take the piss. Now, I have to say, fair play to him that he sees them regularly each week, twice a week or more. He's still an arse to me, and a big baby victim, but I don't care as long as he deals fairly with the children.

So don't let your "adult" (and entirely reasonable) fears stop you. Children, well my children, seem to see things as they really are, while we run about worrying too much. If they have you, and a happy home, they will be ok.

Oh and I have NO REGRETS!!

Meglet Mon 31-Mar-14 16:14:45

Seriously, now the DC's are at school (they don't know their dad) I sometimes ponder if there are any differences between kids whose parents have split up and kids whose parents are together. And watching them in the playground, at parties, in assemblies and knowing roughly what group some of the other kids are in class there seems to be no difference at all.

Children with separated parents don't all go to the bottom set and fight in the playgnd you know smile.

Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 16:39:48

PermanentPasty your post struck a chord with me. My H would never disappear because he loves our girls too much but he'll be angry with me for ruining the plans we had together. We are about to do a big family move which I need to halt which requires me to change jobs.

When he's not around we too have fun, silly, cuddly time. Despite loving our girls, it's on his terms and if they come to hug him (he doesn't move for them). He never gets his ass of the couch and expects the world to revolve around it (even leaving dishes there for me to tidy up on top of my FT job).

I'm having counselling through work and I would like to try couples counselling but I'm afraid the cheetah won't change his spots.

It feels like a bad bad dream that it may have come to this because we did have lovely life plans (nice house, holidays, etc) but we'll see what happens.

BTW he left home yesterday afternoon in a huff (he works away during the week but usually leaves Monday am) over me being angry with him sitting watching TV all day whilst I sorted the house out...on Mother's Day. He thought I was being a martyr, I was just putting the house back in order! I asked him to tidy the kitchen (dishes from when he made me breakfast) but he didn't. They were piling up, you couldn't ignore them!

Haven't had a text since because I think he's expecting me to apologise but dreading a text because then the fight will start. So angry but also so sad.

Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 16:44:15

Oops I think I meant leopard won't change it's spot. Whatever, you know what I meant! wink

Cabrinha Mon 31-Mar-14 17:24:30

6 months post split, my 5.3yo is fine.
The day after I told her, I asked nursery for a report on how she'd been, they said she'd been excitedly talking about have 2 house!
She likes Disney and the "one true love" idea. I told her that we had realised we weren't one true loves, and really you should always be married to someone you love.
She has said a couple of times that she wishes we were together, or that she had one house - but honestly, with the same level of upset (and just as fleeting) as when she says she wishes it was pizza not jacket potatoes for tea!

Her behaviour hasn't changed at all.
She's a happy girl.

And now I have a boyfriend and she likes him and she's seeing me model what a relationship should look like: fun, laughter, kissing, doing things together with her.

Honestly - she's happy. Good luck!

Halfawife Mon 31-Mar-14 18:33:15

Just had a text, 24 hours later. No apology, just asking for general household info to be sent to him. No mention of yesterday's fiasco. Like it never happened whilst I'm sitting here fuming with only 3 hours sleep because of it. Arg!

Handywoman Mon 31-Mar-14 22:37:42

halfawife I'm another one like * peppermintpasty* who had a h who expected family life to come to him (on the sofa). My dd's were 8 and 10, the eldest worries about her dad and has had a few wobbles. But our house is a happy, stress-free place where they are free to get creative (the suddenly decided to get the paints out and spontaneously made mothers-day cards on Sarurday night - that would not have been permitted under the old regime. We are busy, happy, fulfilled and unfettered by misery. Both girls doing well at school. I think cog is right, it's the emotional environment that matters, not the physical presence of a 'full complement' of parents.

mummytime Mon 31-Mar-14 22:54:30

Well in my family the children whose parents split early coped best, as they quickly adapted to a new normal. Older children have more memories.

Of course there is a lot of stuff on the web just written to make people feel guilty.

Hup Mon 31-Mar-14 23:30:32

A month post split and DS 10 is a mess. Have had to get Counselling for him as he has taken it really badly. It was a shock to me so must have been so awful for him. He is getting worse not better - but he is just one child and a sensitive one at that.

bouncyagain Tue 01-Apr-14 06:26:24

The younger the better. My DS was 3 when ex DW ended it. He's fine with it. He's now almost 6. He misses my old rented flat - it had a lift which he liked. I think he has complained about having two homes once. I think it helps that he has two sets of everything. She can be difficult to deal with, and it works better to keep interaction to a minimum.

If it happened now, I think he would be quite upset. He'd get over it, but it would be more of a big deal.

mummytime Tue 01-Apr-14 07:44:35

Hup - it is a month for you - that is no time for you or your DS to get over it. At 10 he is perfectly able to express his feelings etc. Its good you have got him some counselling.

Just as if someone has died, the grief from a relationship shouldn't be expected to be recovered from in a month, it is a slow process.

However if the relationship has been generally bad, then that grief becomes confused with relief to be out. Very small children though tend to recover more easily, at least if they still have a lot of contact with their primary care giver.

BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 08:08:12

Yes, I think it is easier for little ones. They accept everything at face value. "Daddy is going to live somewhere else now." "Oh sad Okay."

Vs an older child who has all sorts of ideas and fears and will have heard things from friends etc. "This means that I'm from a broken home!" "What if Dad moves far away like X's dad did?" "I don't want a new stepmum/stepdad" "I always thought my parents would stay together forever, not like those divorced parents". In time they will come to be able to see this situation for what it is rather than their catastrophic idea of the situation/worst nightmare of the situation. And then they can adjust. But at first it's going to be difficult to work out what they really feel.

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