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Helping children through separation

(20 Posts)
YetanotherAnonymousquestion Fri 03-Jun-16 11:10:03

I have a toddler and 6 year old. DH is a mix of denial and gloominess so haven't worked out contact arrangements but I think at least initially it'll be Sun pm to Fri with me. Weekend starting Fri with Dad. With an open invite that any evening DH gets home early enough he can come see the kids before bed.

We have not argued etc in front of them for a long time, it will be a shock for DS1.

Id be really grateful for any advice in managing the process, what and when to tell DS1 etc.

Also wondering do schools have staff who help children talk about things like this?

concertplayer Fri 03-Jun-16 12:31:48

Unfortunately with young children is very hard to predict the impact on them until much later when they are older. Some kids cope well others
get into adulthood and resent the separation. Children can be influenced
by peers so when they see that Johnie has both parents and the financial
advantages etc they start negative opinions about their parents.
The school is responsible for their education and not for their home life
but it would still be a good idea to tell school about the situation.
You need to tell DC in an open and honest and simple way.
Mum and Dad are no longer living together. We both love you and so Dad
will be seeing you Fri etc However do not make any promises that you
cannot keep. Encourage Dc to talk both parents re their feelings.
Dh should phone every day.
In many cases a parent can lose contact with a child after a few years
This often happens when a parent starts a new relationship/family.
It can be fraught with complications so needs carefully handling
Whatever the situation is potentially disadvantageous for children
You need to meet others in a similar situation who you can talk to about this and will advise how they did things.
Bear in mind a Dc will never fully understand until they reach adulthood.

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Fri 03-Jun-16 12:41:16

Thanks for the reply. Yes it is difficult to know the long term impact. Can only try our best right now.

You need to meet others in a similar situation who you can talk to about this and will advise how they did things.

I'm hoping to learn a bit from MNers experience.

Minime85 Fri 03-Jun-16 13:12:48

Hi sorry you are going though this. I'm not sure primary schools do but secondary schools do. I made sure my head teacher and individual class teachers knew about split. I am sure in primary setting someone will be there to help in these situations.

If you can get a routine going u think that's best for the dcs. If not we have it that dcs can contact other parent whenever they want really. Encourage them to call if had a swimming badge etc. All clubs and parties are attended regardless of whose days. Kids shouldn't miss out so I think that's really important. Only thing with him going to come round like that is how long will you want that to happen for? Will you still want him popping in a year from now?

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Fri 03-Jun-16 13:39:13

Thanks Minime
Good point about him popping in. Will have a think. It's very rare that he's home before bedtime. 5 nights without seeing him seems such a long stretch.

Minime85 Fri 03-Jun-16 15:21:40

They do get used to it. I'm nearly three years down the line mine were 8 and 6. They can FaceTime or Skype in between if they want to? Mine used to do that more but now they just accept it as it is and like I said can always ring dad if they want to. It's hard but I try to only say positive things about ex. He left us. We both have new partners now and kids are much more settled. I found m net so helpful as I felt so alone in rl as knew no one in same situation.

We attend parents evenings and school plays together still and shows dcs we do communicate about them and both see these things as important.

Cabrinha Fri 03-Jun-16 15:37:17

I would say don't assume that it's a terrible thing and try not to transmit that feeling to them.

My the 4.5yo was very excited about having 2 houses, wanted to see my new one straight away. We told her together, and presented it as an exciting thing.

I personally don't understand the oft used "we don't love each other but we love you" line! Why would you even put it in their heads that you don't love them?! My child never questioned that we both loved her, she knew, she felt loved.

To our advantage, I'd always worked away a lot and (because we didn't like each other) I'd done lots of solo trips and weekend time with her. So it wasn't strange at all to her to spend time with one parent for periods of time.

Let your 6yo know he can phone either parent whenever - but don't worry if he doesn't want to. Lots of children of shift workers or people who work away like me are perfectly settled with 5 day absences.

I know it's not what you asked, but I'd question your Sun-pm to Fri suggestion. Unless you work at the weekend... You don't get much of the leisure weekend time with them, and your STBXH doesn't get much of the weekend to himself - sounds like he works Mon-Fri?
Can he adjust his work / change job to do a midweek night?
Maybe alternate a Sat bedtime return to you and a Mon morning he takes them to school. Then you get a full weekend day a fortnight.
Be very careful that you don't lose all the fun family weekends because he won't look at his work options and that makes you pick up the slack in the week.

Cabrinha Fri 03-Jun-16 15:43:09

Oh on the "when" to tell... At 4.5years I thought she needed definite answers to things. So we didn't tell her for 4 months, until my house was bought.

And then my XH and I had agreed in advance that we'd fit the move around her reaction.

You've waited this long to divorce - you don't have to tell the kids and move out same day.

I say, get the second home sorted. Then tell the kids and explain the new living pattern but tell them it's going to happen soon. Let them process that, and have the comfort of both parents during that time. It also shows a positive united front if you don't them immediate cease your own contact with your XH. No reason why you can't all live in the current house with the first night in the second home just a single night visit. You could all go. My daughter invited her dad! He came with us for her first look at the house (obviously he knew about it anyway!) and when she excitedly wanted us all to stay, we just said their weren't enough beds... she was happy with that but if she'd wanted us both I'd have pulled out my airbed.

Minime85 Fri 03-Jun-16 16:01:33

Yes agree about telling them when second house sorted. We waited until deposit was paid and we then told them together. Had fun distraction for after. He moved his stuff out whilst they were at school throughout that next week. I kept all furniture so nothing suddenly disappeared. We went to see house all together too. Mine refused to stay overnight for a couple of moths so to start with was day visits which led to an overnight. After 4-5 months they stayed for 2 nights at a time. Exh shift worker so our contact all around that. We both attend any sporting events we can too etc. And he has been invited to all their parties since. Everything we did we tried to do it about them and not us. Didn't always do it perfectly in sure but we are giving it a go. Don't get me wrong he does my nut in at times. You'll get there.

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Fri 03-Jun-16 16:49:01

Really good point about not presenting it as an awful thing. I did that about telling DS1 that DS2 was on the way and he really picked up in how I was feeling.

We are due to exchange and complete next week. I had thought I'd wait until the summer hols and then tell them 2 weeks before move.

But I'm rethinking and might try and do it end of June so we can enjoy summer. And because unless DH pulls himself together this period is not going to be used as a sensible transition.

I realise that the contact isn't ideal but DH won't consider a week night so it will have to do. I will need and want to go back to work so it will need to change at that point.

Most of his nights out are Fridays (straight from work with friends) so it makes sense to have staggered plans so he gets some Fridays. He is so sad he won't consider going out ever at monent.

He is staying in current property and I'm moving so hopefully the boys will feel at home in both places quickly and overnights with him should be fine.

This feedback has been really useful thanks. I just need to get DH on board with taking an interest/being jolly about new house.

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Sat 04-Jun-16 12:58:43

Feeling a bit shit. Am I getting this wrong?

I am in town this afternoon as I am trying to get the children used to doing things with each parent separately and to Daddy looking after them. I'm planning on being back late afternoon to have tea together etc. I've done this a few weekends, or stayed at home while DH goes out with them.

I feel guilty like I'm always off having fun (not that I am!) leaving DH to look after them - but he doesn't want time to himself and I don't think doing everything together is helpful. My little one was really sad because I was going out and Daddy was putting him down for his nap. I left him crying. sad

I was out last night too (first evening out in months). I left the kids bathed and in pjs so DH was just putting them to bed.

They are heading to playground after DC2s nap. Should I go meet them?

Minime85 Sat 04-Jun-16 13:42:05

I don't think you are wrong to be starting to do things separately. If you want to meet them at the park then do or maybe you take them to the park tomorrow? Why is DH not accepting what is happening?

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Sat 04-Jun-16 14:02:25

Hi again. I think he's waiting for me to realise I'm making a big mistake.

I'll go meet them I think.

HormonalHeap Sat 04-Jun-16 16:17:01

Mine were the same age.. don't make the mistake I made. To a aid hurting them I was very vague, just telling them that daddy is staying with grandma. He then came over every evening to help bath them, and they were begging him not to leave. In hindsight they must have been so confused. You need to start doing things separately with them to get them used to it and resigned to it.

HormonalHeap Sat 04-Jun-16 16:17:31

Aid = avoid !!!

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Sat 04-Jun-16 17:53:48

Oh dear HormonalHeap, it's easy to get it wrong isn't it. Hope they are ok now.
We will speak to DC as soon as house is sorted and as soon as DH can find a way to be positive for them.

Minime85 Sun 05-Jun-16 09:18:35

Sounds like he needs a kick up the arse. Methaphorically of course.

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Sun 05-Jun-16 12:22:31

Yes, I think he probably needs both types.

Hurtandconfused2016 Sun 05-Jun-16 12:58:38

Hey op

My little one was 2 when ex left 5 months ago. I have found it really hard I moved back into my parents and ex moved in with his leaving family home empty.
For a while I told ds daddy was at work (his visitations with ex were very few going 8 weeks without seeing him. His choice though!)
Now we have a baby (13 weeks old) I find it hard to explain to the little one why he sees daddy one day a week and baby doesn't see daddy (again his choice as he doesn't think meeting in again public place is appropriate).
I am finding it very hard I don't know if maybe it's because of the age or all the change in such a short time that is making it difficult for him (ex left, we moved back to my parents, I had baby and ex introduced the ow to his all in 4 months) I

YetanotherAnonymousquestion Sun 05-Jun-16 17:06:31

Hi hurtandconfused. What a lot for you and your little son to deal with. Shitty behaviour from your ex. It must be so tough for you but I really think children can be happy and do well with one loving parent looking out for them.

My older son dealt with a lot of change at one stage, difft issues re health, GPs, new house sibling, etc. He struggled for a while, nervous tics, anxiety, but I was amazed at his resilience. He bounced back. I am sure your DS will be the same.

Glad you have your family to support you.
13 weeks is tiring in the best of circs.

Unfortunately about to throw more shit my DCs way. It feels awful when you can't make their life perfect doesn't it? I just make a conscious effort to bombard them with cuddles and reassurance.

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