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What to tell DD about the OW

(16 Posts)
Notnastypasty Tue 11-Nov-14 11:33:34

I've posted before about my husband walking out at the start of this year for a colleague he'd been having an affair with. To cut a long story short he's still with her and I know it's not long until he wants to introduce her to DD6. I'm not sure how DD will react as she's still fairly unsettled about the whole separation but sees her dad frequently and seems to be okay as long as her routine with him isn't disrupted etc. I've done all I can so far to protect her from the situation and she isn't aware that daddy has a gf at the moment.

However, when stbxh was having the affair, him and the ow took DD (then 5) on a date with them. I am concerned that dd who has a memory like an elephant and is very astute will remember her and start to ask questions. After the date she came home saying 'was that your girlfriend daddy?'!! Cue lots of laughing and denial from him at the time hmm

So my question is this - if when she meets her she recognises her and asks me questions as to 'was she daddy's gf then' or 'is she the reason you and daddy aren't together' then what should I do? My instinct is to lie and protect her but I don't want her to cotton on as she gets older and feel like she can't trust me to tell her the truth sad

MarianneSolong Tue 11-Nov-14 11:37:51

I think I'd suggest that she asked her Dad.

I'd probably try to behave in a low-key sensible sort of way - even if this isn't how you feel. And sayomething along the lines of:-

It is normal for people who are married to have friends. Some will be friends of the opposite sex.

Unfotunately some people who have been married decide that though they continue to love their children they cannot stay together.

People who are no longer married/living with their husbands are free to have new special friends/girlfriends etc though their children will continue to be every bit as important to them.

nottheOP Tue 11-Nov-14 11:38:08

Daddy and I aren't together because we didn't make each other happy anymore to question 2.

Re question 1, I would probably say that she was just his friend then. At 5 or 6 years old I think she'd buy it.

NickiFury Tue 11-Nov-14 11:39:29

I would tell her in an age appropriate way. She'll know deep down anyway and I think your instinct of being honest and letting her know she can trust you is the right one. As long as you are calm and answer her questions honestly and without anger or resentment I think she will form her opinions on the situation. I think anger and resentment comes later when children mature and realise what really went on but everyone lied to them about it.

He sounds like a real prize your ex hmm.

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 11-Nov-14 11:44:33

Re question 1, I would probably say that she was just his friend then. At 5 or 6 years old I think she'd buy it.

Why lie? I wouldn't. One. It sets a bad precedent - how can she trust you?
Two. I wouldn't cover up for him.

I'd probably say: I don't really know the answer to that, darling. Perhaps you can ask Daddy about it. Do you have any other questions?

MarianneSolong Tue 11-Nov-14 11:48:31

Well I suppose you could do the sort of 'honesty' which is about saying,

'Yes, your father had sexual intercourse with somebody while he was still married to me, and adultery is wrong so of course that means your Daddy is a bad man. Oh and his girlfriend is a bad lady. But I'm good.'

However, I'm not sure that this is a terribly age-appropriate thing or helpful thing to say.

NickiFury Tue 11-Nov-14 11:51:36

I don't think there's any indication whatsoever that the OP wants to say anything like that Marianne. I'm a bit confused by your post, are you thinking the OP does want to give that impression to her dd or suggesting it as an option for consideration?

OwlCapone Tue 11-Nov-14 11:53:15

TBH, I would be honest with her.

MimiSunshine Tue 11-Nov-14 12:06:49

Don't lie. Your daughter has already picked up on something by asking if OW was his GF when she met her, presumably she doesn't ask that question about every friend you both had / have?
If you lie, you could confuse her as she grows up and likely learns the truth she could feel conflicted about how much you knew.

You don't have to go with brutal honesty but I would go with 1. yes I think she was. 2. there are few reasons why we aren't together anymore but we both still love you.

If she goes on to ask if you're sad then you can say you were but now you're not (maybe that's the only lie to tell her).

WiggleGinger Tue 11-Nov-14 12:08:08

Why lie? That's not protecting your Dd
Your stbxh took your dd on a date with ow? Whilst still with you,
You sound rather calm about that, well done for keeping your cool!

But... I'd tell that truth! Yes she was his girlfriend then and yes she is the reason that daddy left mummy.
You are protecting him, why?
If DD is as astute as you say then she deserves the truth. Put gently of course, in a calm simple "yes darling she was daddy's girlfriend then" kind of manner.

I think its unfair to lie as you will have to perhaps unravel said lie when she's older!

My father had many affairs. Knowing who he left my mum for and that it was an affair didn't harm me! It taught me life lessons though on how NOT to behave in a relationship!

OwlCapone Tue 11-Nov-14 12:17:57

was she daddy's gf then Yes, I think she probably was.

is she the reason you and daddy aren't together There's never only one reason. Sometimes people just stop being friends and make new ones.

And then I'd change the subject.

Notnastypasty Tue 11-Nov-14 12:18:21

Marianne of course I wouldn't say that to her (just in my head!!)

Nikkifury - isn't he just?! He was an absolute model husband and father up until this point and now he's a dick and that's putting it mildly.

Thanks for all the replies - I thinks subtle honesty might be the way forward.

Wiggle - I'm not really ok with him taking her on a date and it really hurts to think that two people who have caused so much hurt will get to play happy families with my precious DD sad but I know there's nothing I can do about it. I'm already dreading having to put a fake smile on ready for when dd comes home and says I had lots of fun with daddy and gf envy
It would be much easier for me to deal with if he met someone else as I really don't want her around dd but I know I just have to get on with it.

MarianneSolong Tue 11-Nov-14 14:41:52

No, I know you wouldn't say that!

I think it's more that some of those who advocate a particular form of 'honesty' and/or who equate shielding children from difficult adult emotions with 'lying', can also end up doing a bit of a damage.

Good luck.

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 11-Nov-14 14:45:19

No one has suggested using adult language to a little girl. Or suggested saying things like "Daddy is a bad man".

I think there have been some good responses here.

BloodontheTracks Tue 11-Nov-14 14:56:05

First thing's first, you're being incredibly mature and compassionate by making this about what's best for your daughter.

The most important thing for her well-being is, as you say, stability, and that neither parent is slagged off to the child. It may be unfair and difficult, but studies show that children of that sort of age experience criticism of a parent as painfully as if they themselves were being criticised. Also they are extremely emotionally linked to both parents and will feel hugely protective and confused by the idea that one has hurt or betrayed the other. It's fine and normal to express sadness and express feelings like missing how it used to be etc when they come up. Seeing an adult deal with being sad or angry and then moving through it is important for a child. But when a parent expresses hurt and fury about being wronged by the other, it automatically makes the child want to resolve this and feel responsible for saving the marriage or else responsible for also hating the absent parent.

In short, I agree that the response should either be, 'that's something you need to ask daddy because I don't know the details.' And then stress how you both will always be her parents and love her very much etc and that's what's important. Or, if you want to be completely honest, say 'Daddy met someone else. daddy and mummy aren't going to be together anymore but that's got nothing to do with how much we love you and he will always be your daddy first over everything.'

She seems a little bit young to put together everything right now in the way you fear, and a change of focus is probably all that is required, from the past to the present. I imagine her concern, as with all kids, is really about what it means for HER and that's where the focus should stay. When she is older of course she will realise the situation and that is when your XH will be responsible for answering her questions more fully.

Notnastypasty Tue 11-Nov-14 20:38:36

Thank you bloodonthetracks - that's all really helpful x

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