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When step parents break up...

(16 Posts)
ItStartedWithAKiss241 Fri 08-Dec-17 15:21:47

Wondering how to handle this situation with my dd and ds. Age 8 and 9.
My children’s dad had been with the same women since they were babies. They loved her and she loved them. She saw them every weekend and came to school plays, parents evenings, hospital visits, basically she was an equal parent. They would never remember a time of her not being around.
However about 18 months ago she and my children’s dad broke up, it was messy and he asked me not to let her see them. Her sister messaged me and said she was crying missing the children’s and would I allow her to see them and organise it so she needs to have no contact with ex. I agreed, my children were distraught having lost her and I thought that it would be better and less traumatic if she gradually started seeing them less over time rather than all of a sudden when the split happens. I sorted this with ex.
She saw them weekly for dinner for a while and some sundays. Then she went away for work and brought them gifts, came and took them out when she got back. That was 9 months ago and nothing since then.
Which is fine. She has a new boyfriend and I’m so glad she is happy. She is a lovely person.
However my children still ask to see her all the time, to skype her, cried on her birthday when they realised she wouldn’t have a gift from them and they were worried she would think they had forgotten her and didn’t care about her anymore. (Their words)
I don’t skyoe her when they ask and I don’t message her to ask if she wants to see the children as I didn’t want to badger her and interrupt her new life. 9 months is a long time and I suspect we won’t see anymore of her.
My question is how do I explain this to the children? We’ve dragged it out for so long that now I don’t know what to say to them. X

OP’s posts: |
Janetsadick Fri 08-Dec-17 15:24:41

My DCs stepdad did the same. He was around a lot and made a lot of promises initially. It’s more awkward now as we have a child together, so my DC still see him and say hi etc but nothing like before.

Tinselistacky Fri 08-Dec-17 15:26:50

Could you contact her and see if she would consider being their pen pal?
When I asked my exh to leave the twat didn't /wouldn't say goodbye to my 3 dc who he had raised for 5 years.
My ds3 cried himself to sleep for 13 weeks. Broke my heart .

ItStartedWithAKiss241 Fri 08-Dec-17 15:47:57

Pen pal is a good idea. She is actually a nice person (not like these men). I don’t want to ask too much of her and seem pushy. Especially since we have had no contact for so long.
These situations are so sad 😞

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user1493413286 Fri 08-Dec-17 16:38:19

Penpal is a good idea. It’s a really tricky situation and as a step mum it’s always upset me that if I split from DP I wouldn’t see DSD any more and it sounds like she has had to move on to protect herself.
When I got together with my DP (before I met his daughter) his previous girlfriend was still seeing DSD as a kind of gradual retreat and it worked relatively well. When it got to the point that DSD wasn’t bothered about seeing her the girlfriend was quite upset but it was necessary for DSD to move on and from my point of view for me to then become part of her life.

mustbemad17 Fri 08-Dec-17 16:45:58

Janets so sorry to wade in, i just wondered how that situation worked, did your DC struggle? Only asking because my ex was a massive part of DD's life, but he has walked away without glancing back. I'm pregnant with his baby & terrified that if he starts having contact when the baby is here, it's really going to screw my DD up.

Apologies OP for slight sidetrack!

ItStartedWithAKiss241 Fri 08-Dec-17 17:22:21

Yes I think that’s it, she’s gradually retreated in order to move on life so I feel really awkward asking for her to contact the children. Except they are still bursting into tears at a song that reminds them of her, or a hat of hers that she leant my dd... I don’t know what to say to them to make it better. They burst into tears in McD’s at the 2 minutes silence on rememberce Sunday as it’s her birthday x

OP’s posts: |
ItStartedWithAKiss241 Fri 08-Dec-17 17:23:45

No worries mustbemad We are all year to help each other x

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NorthernSpirit Fri 08-Dec-17 17:39:32

It sounds that the EX SM is a decent person and has tried to do the right thing. She has now moved on with her life.

I think the longer you string it out for the worse it will get. The children are 8 & 9 so they are still young. I would guess they understand couples breaking up? How have you explained that you and their dad aren’t together? The children haven’t seen this woman for 9 months I wouldn’t start the contact again - it will be even more confusing for the children.

Magda72 Fri 08-Dec-17 19:36:28

Hi OP - what a hard situation for everyone. Obviously sm needs to get on with her life & I would imagine keeping up contact with her ex's kids would make that quite difficult for her & her new partner.
I'm with @NorthernSpirit in that I think no contact is inevitable & it's best not to resume a regular routine - asking her to be their pen pal is a lovely idea in theory but could put her in an awful position on the long term.
That being said I do think your kids need some closure on this. You could possibly contact her & ask her to speak to the kids in order to explain why she can't be in their lives anymore - the worst she can do is say no. Or, you (&/or your ex) could just sit down with them & explain it. In my experience children respond very well to plain speaking & it could well be the lack of clarity that's upsetting them.

PSMum2 Fri 08-Dec-17 20:01:08

This is my biggest fear as you get so close and if you split up you have no rights.

She did see them and I’m sure it was very hard for her. I think the kind (and responsible) thing is for you and their father to work with your kids to explain why she isn’t in their lives anymore, and possibly why you aren’t together yourselves.

It would be very, very unfair of you to renter her life when she’s moving on. You share an ex so I’m sure you know exactly why the relationship broke up and it seems like he was pretty awful to her in the aftermath.

I know you mean well, but reaching out to her would be very selfish of you and ultimately won’t help your kids as it’s not a sustainable relationship.

I say this with kindness - your kids now have suffered multiple broken homes. Their parents aren’t together and someone they saw as basically another parent left them too - and I’m sure she didn’t quietly leave one day, relationship breakdowns are usually slow and painful and your kids probably witnessed all sorts of things that are far from ideal in the process.

Your focus should be preparing them to deal with this, there could be attachment issues and all sorts of behavior issues down the road. Their own father didn’t want them to see her, the kids are not being considered in any of those decisions. It’s very sad. Now is your chance to turn around what could be lasting damage to them and their ability for form relationships in the future.

ItStartedWithAKiss241 Sat 09-Dec-17 08:11:14

I think this is what I am thinking. That she has moved on and it has been a long time of no contact. I just don’t know how to explain to the kids that people love you then leave you?
I never explained me and their dad not being together as they were so small. They always just grew up with things as they were.
They are pretty intelligent kids so would get it if I explained to them. Tears in the short term but I feel like I’m stringing them along at the moment.
Just how? How do I explain it? X

OP’s posts: |
AccidentallyRunToWindsor Sat 09-Dec-17 13:27:12

Oh how sad 😔 this is one of my fears if DH and I split I may not see my DSC anymore.

My Dsis is still in touch with her DSD some 11 years after divorcing her dad so it can work still. They are in touch on social media and by texting etc. This lady sounds like a decent sort so it's worth letting her know how the kids are feeling- perhaps she didn't realise the depth of how they felt.

PSMum2 Sat 09-Dec-17 15:34:00

I would explain to your kids why their parents are not together. Kids internalize what the can’t explain and they blame themselves.

While it may be how it’s always been for them, they see how it’s not this way for the majority of families. They see this every single day with their friends, on TV, in the books they read and the songs they listen to. A man meets a woman, they fall in love, have kids and live happily ever after. While this isn’t the reality for a lot of families it’s the message we all get from birth, in a billion different ways.

On some level they are blaming themselves. Unlike their friends and everything they see around them their parents aren’t together and now a primary caregiver has abandoned them too (kids see this as abandonment).

While I’m sure your kids are intelligent, at that age they simply do not have the capacity to process what is happening and they will fill in what they don’t understand with what they do (blaming themselves).

They are crying in a Macdonald’s 9 months later. This is a sign that they have not been able to process and accept what has happened. They are traumatized. Someone need to be there for them and support them. They clearly got something from her that they aren’t getting elsewhere. You should find out what that is and find a way to give it to them. Your children are really suffering and they have no one to guide them. Your ex sounds like an arse, so it’s highly likely he will move someone in and she will leave too. Your kids need the skills to deal with this.

PSMum2 Sat 09-Dec-17 15:38:36

There is plenty of literature online about explaining divorce etc. in an age appropriate way. Let them know that sometimes people can’t be together and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t lovable and special.

I’m not sure what your circumstances are, but it seems like this has never been addressed with them (you and ex never addressed why you aren’t together and then step mom suddenly left the home and they couldn’t see her) it is worth speaking with a family counselor to get some professibal guidance. Maybe someone at the school can help.

Good luck!

SingingSeuss Sat 09-Dec-17 15:39:51

It sounds awful and must be so confusing for them. It would have been easier for them to not have contact after the split. It sounds like the contact was more to make her feel good and now she has moved on she's not really that interested. Although it's painful a clean break now is probably for the best.

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