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Did your parents have an amicable split?

(30 Posts)
RollerCola Tue 17-Jun-14 21:59:47

I'm looking for some views of people whose parents separated when they were younger and how it affected you. In particular those whose parents managed to keep their split fairly amicable.

My exh and I separated almost a year ago and are both working very hard to keep things as amicable as possible for our children's sakes. We've remained civil and reasonably friendly when the kids are around, and we're both doing our very best to put the children's needs first.

So far they seem ok, I know the eldest (12) in particular would like us to get back together but she seems to have accepted what's happened and they both seem happy enough.

However I cannot get over the feelings of guilt that we have somehow damaged them and their adult lives will be adversely affected by what's happened. I listen to everything I'm told about it being better for them to have 2 happy parents who live apart etc and it does all make sense. But I can't get it out of my head.

Is anyone actually ok about their parents separating and have gone on to have a good relationship with both? How about new partners?

I've managed to get through the worst part but this guilt is now eating me up. How can I move on?

Changelenom Tue 17-Jun-14 22:05:08

Yes my parents split when I was a pre-schooler. After the initial break-up which I can't remember, they remained friends and still are.

I wouldn't have had it any other way. They are both very strong personalities and I think if they had stayed together I would have found it too intense.

I enjoyed our small family unit with my mum and sibling and have a good relationship with both parents. I was always very excited to see my DF.

The only real consequence I can see is that i don't know how relationships are supposed to work having never seen a good model of one. I do find it difficult to stay/make happy relationships.

My DM never remarried though

RollerCola Tue 17-Jun-14 22:55:16

That's good to hear about your relationship with both being good separately. I appreciate what you mean about not experiencing a 'together' relationship and really knowing how that works. That does worry me a bit. Do you mean it's caused issues in your own relationships?

Changelenom Tue 17-Jun-14 23:04:44

Yes. Neither I or my sister have found relationships easy (though I have had long term ones, I fall out of love easily). Don't know how much is down to my personality, how much my upbringing but I do think it's difficult to know how to negotiate things with another adult if you've never seen parents work out their differences. I always had one point of view- my mum's.

However, if you end up finding a new partner your DC will get to experience that at some point.

I think key thing is to make sure your ex stays heavily involved. I hardly saw my DF as he worked away.

Bumblebee85 Tue 17-Jun-14 23:17:38

My parents separated when I was around the same age as your eldest. Yes I wished they would get back together sometimes, but knew it was for the best that they separated. They were relatively amicable and whilst I lived with my mum, I could see my dad whenever I wanted to really (he lived a short bus ride away on my route to/from school) rather than set times etc- although he did have a 'day' to have the kids.

Fast forward [not far off] 20 years and my dad has now remarried, mum hasn't. Both are happy though and I have an equally great relationship with them both. Get on well with their partners etc.

I would say don't worry about it as much as you are (easier said than done I know). be flexible with letting the kids spend time with you both, be open with them and answer any Qs...and don't critise the other parent if possible! And it sounds like you are already doing those things, so I'm sure your kids are going to be just fine, with two happy parents (and two lots of bday/Christmas pressies!!)

Good luck and don't beat yourself up smile

weyayechickenpie Tue 17-Jun-14 23:21:35

My parents split when I was 15 they didnt talk to each other for a long time " my father cheated on my mother" I get on really well withBoth of them and we are very close I wouldnt say it effected my life. Im pleased they got divorced as I was sick of the arguments and it was unerving to be around. I think them being apart has set high standards when it comes to my own relationships as I know sometimes its not in the best interest to stay together to keep the kids happy and that there is life after divorce/ seperation.

MrsMagWeary Tue 17-Jun-14 23:33:29

My parents separated when I was 11. Only possible difference is that it was because my dad is gay. I sometimes think that made it easier because there was a reason iykwim. They've both since remarried, though only fairly recently, in the last decade which was about 2 decades since the split. I get with them both, and partners very well.
One thing mum did which didn't help me was to ask if we wanted to go to dad's. That felt like she was asking us to choose him, sort of. It was much better to have a routine and know, Wednesday we're going to dad's, no debate.

rinabean Tue 17-Jun-14 23:36:34

I always wanted my parents to get back together, they divorced when I was 3. They hated each other, there had been violence, on top of that they were shit parents. But I still wanted us all to live together in one house.

That was just because I wanted to be normal. In retrospect they shouldn't even have married. I know full well it was for the best and I think I did deep down even as a child. So even if they express that they want you to get back together, it doesn't mean you've done the wrong thing or even that they really truly want that.

You sound like you're doing a good job. Just some tips: never ever criticise the other parent. Especially not when you're cross with the child and comparing them. Just don't. It must be so easy for it to slip out - I'm sure married parents do it too - but don't, don't, don't! Or apologise a lot if you do! And don't threaten to send them to live with the other parent if they're misbehaving or doing that teenage "I hate you, I hate living here" thing.

I'm happily married, I have been in this relationship for 8 years. I think you are setting your kids a good example: not all relationships work (forever), you don't have to stay in a relationship that doesn't work, marriage is serious. Aren't those good things to know?

RollerCola Tue 17-Jun-14 23:45:38

Thank you, yes I always make sure I talk about exh in a positive way, I've never mentioned anything bad and if they tell me something he's said or done that I don't like I just brush over it & ignore. It's not easy for me but I will do whatever it takes to make it easier for the children. Likewise, as far as I know he doesn't say anything bad about me so we all muddle along ok at the moment.

I hadn't really thought about it but yes it is good for them to see that it's ok to end relationships if they aren't working. My parents have been together for 40 odd years so while that's great, I've never seen a breakup close up, so it took me a very long time and a lot of heartache to end it.

I will teach my children that it's actually ok to end a relationship if it's making you unhappy. Perhaps it will make them stronger than I was.

EATmum Tue 17-Jun-14 23:46:19

Your child may instinctively want her parents to be together (I know I did), but can also recognise that it may not be for the best. What made my parents' divorce a 'success' in my book is the fact that they always respected each other. They made time to talk together about us, they went to parents' evenings together, and if we tried to play them off against one another (surely not?) they checked and called us out on it. It was good to feel the boundaries were firmly in place, and that in parenting us they could be (and always would be) united.

bragmatic Wed 18-Jun-14 08:31:27

I was about 12. My parents didn't really communicate directly with each other for many years, but neither ever said a bad word about the other and if there was any bickering over financial settlements/which parent we spent time with, well, I was not privy to any of it.

I wanted them to get back together for a long, long time. Then my life became the new normal. Then I grew up and wondered why on earth they ever married in the first place, they were very mismatched. Mum would probably have been capable of sticking it out for 'the sake of the children', but she would have been very, very unhappy. I'm so glad she was brave enough to split from a perfectly nice man who was all wrong for her.

She is dead now. Dad is still alive. They both have had very nice lives. Full of ups and downs. Their divorce was just a blip in their lives, and mine.

RollerCola Thu 19-Jun-14 18:03:43

Thanks for your replies, so far we have gone to all parents eves together (something we didn't always do even when together) and consult each other on anything at all that involves the kids. It's a bumpy ride but we are both managing to overcome our own emotions and still put on a united front for them.

They know we won't ever live together but I really hope that we can pull off some decent parenting even though we live apart. In actual fact exh is now taking a much more active role in their lives than he ever did when we lived together so I really hope this is a good thing for them.

Minime85 Thu 19-Jun-14 18:15:44

Will watch this thread with real interest roller as in a similar situation to you.

We did sports day together today and were amicable. I think it must be good for our dcs to see this bit then I do wonder too if seeing us chat and laugh confuses especially my youngest doc who is 6 about why we aren't together.

I guess we can only do our best with the situation we are in x

Canihaveonemoreslice Thu 19-Jun-14 18:37:59

I'm hoping an amicable split and two happy parents means that my children grow up to see that although we couldn't remain married(dh is gay) that we tried and did what was the best for them giving the circumstances.
Minime85 I also worry that them seeing us together laughing etc doesn't cause any confusion. Dh is coming on holiday with us this year so I'm going to have a chat with them before just to reinforce that we won't be getting back together etc.

MrsJayGatsby Thu 19-Jun-14 19:29:15

My parents split when I was around 2 years old. They stayed, and still are, best friends.
Both have had another child with different partners (and my step-siblings, who are the same age, get along very well too and class each other as siblings although they aren't actually related), both have always met and had good relationships with the others partners. I think it's great! If my Mum is ever in a pickle, it's my Dad she calls. He helped carry my Grandfather's coffin a couple of years ago and has helped her move house numerous times.
I have amazing relationships with both parents, and as a result of their relationship when my own relationship with dc's dad broke down i worked incredibly hard to try to remain friends with him as I feel I benefitted from having my parents being so close as i grew up.

DroppingIn Thu 19-Jun-14 19:42:32

My parents split when I was 6. There was violence, alcoholism and they were also shit parents.

My mother was also very abusive to me afterwards because I was the most like 'him and his family'.

I did not see my father again until I was 38 and that was only for one meeting!

Further problems occurred with the arrival, very quickly after the split, of my stepfather and more children then followed in quick succession who were treated very differently than us older ones.

I have been happily (on the whole) married for 21 years so it has not affected me in that way. Although when DH and I have gone through tough times (nothing serious like affairs/violence), the thing that has made me stick with him has been the fear that he may walk away from the DCs like my father did me but that is an unfounded fear and I am glad we have stuck together through it.

I think you are doing very well. Just be aware of the impact of new partners as that can be quite stressful on DC especially if they have not still quite accepted that their parents are staying apart.

I know the very quick introduction of my stepfather (my mother brought him into my room to introduce him to me when I was asleep in bed hmm) into the home and further children who had attention from their biological family (stepfather's) did not help me deal with my father's abandonment at all but that is a rather extreme example.

30ish Thu 19-Jun-14 20:01:50

My mil split up with her first husband after having my DH's sister. She remarried and had DH with her 2nd DH.
Fast forward 30 years and both couples are so friendly that we invited mil's ex husband and his wife to our wedding.
Sadly, both first and second husbands are now dead but my mil and her ex husband's widow (so my sil's mum and step mum) meet up all the time, are ladies that do lunch and holiday together at least twice a year. A very positive relationship/separation.

30ish Thu 19-Jun-14 20:03:36

Also, when mil's ex husband was alive, we would all meet at a restaurant to celebrate their joint birthday (mil and her ex husband of 30 years).

utterlyconflicted Thu 19-Jun-14 20:08:23

No alcohol, violence or abuse. Mum was unhappy and felt unfulfilled. Divorce mid teens. Has affected my brother and myself badly as we reassess 25 years later. Though we have spent a lot of time stating the opposite.

My parents are amicable.

RollerCola Thu 19-Jun-14 20:20:48

Can you explain how it's affected you and your brother badly utterlyconflicted?

utterlyconflicted Fri 20-Jun-14 06:16:04

Our drug and relationship history that started after the divorce. My parents both began to rebuild their lives and we lost guidance at a crucial time. My brother failed academically and his girlfriends are a succession of damaged people that need saving. I failed academically, despite being gifted and spent a lot of time being mouthy and independent, when on reflection, I just wanted unconditional love and support.

I still have huge envy of my friends' parents and their relationship with them. Our families are very fractured with unsuccessful relationships with both step parents.

Now, I do accept that perhaps if they had stayed married these outcomes would have been the same, but it feels that the fractured unit was a huge contributory factor. Everyone began to live separately, with separate, selfish goals.

utterlyconflicted Fri 20-Jun-14 06:29:19

But I do have a nice, comfortable life with lovely close friends that I am extremely loyal to. My marriage is pretty sad. No intimacy but good friends. I have a lot of guilt!

RollerCola Fri 20-Jun-14 07:48:24

I'm sorry to read that utterly, it sounds like perhaps your parents waited till you and your brother were a bit older before they separated. Perhaps they thought you were old enough to deal with it better and forgot that you still needed just as much support as younger children would.

My exh's parents split up when he was 19. His mum said she waited until all her 3 children were grown up with partners of their own (he was the youngest) before she left because she thought they'd all be ok without her. The truth was that it still affected him very badly. It doesn't matter how old the kids are, they still need reassurance and support.

Gimmesomemore Fri 20-Jun-14 08:00:27

My parents haven't split, but I can relate to the guilt that you feel.

My ds1 who is 12, is from my previous relationship. We split when he was 2 and we've remained amicable.

I don't feel so guilty now, as we're 10 years down the line. Both myself and his father have maintained a mutual respect for each other and our roles as parents.

I also get on with my ex's wife as she is lovely and motherly to my ds. He is very happy and now he is older he stays at his dad's more than the original every other weekend.

It does get easier, although I put some of it down to luck!

FindoGask Fri 20-Jun-14 08:02:11

"The only real consequence I can see is that i don't know how relationships are supposed to work having never seen a good model of one."

Equally, my parents stuck it out somehow till my brother and I had left home, and I've never seen a good relationship model either - just one with constantly simmering resentment, ominous silences, occasional violence, heavy drinking (dad) and escaping into work (mum).

Sometimes it feels like parents can't do right whatever they decide! But despite growing up in that environment, I have been happily married for ten years now and although we do argue from time to time, and I can be a moody fucker, I can't imagine a life without my husband so I don't believe that not seeing a good relationship model growing up means you can never have a happy and healthy relationship yourself.

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