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Will my children be damaged from parents splitting up? 7 & 5

17 replies

salamandress · 24/09/2016 09:25


I'm in the process of separating from my husband. He's always been a pretty hands-off dad and worked long hours.

The children love me much more to the point they complain when I have to go out for an hour and he looks after them.

We are separating partly because he doesn't want to be family man. He moved out 6 - 8 weeks ago (doesn't feel that long!).

I regularly ask the kids how they feel. 7 year old says "fine" nonchalantly. And it seems honestly. She says he was always at work anyway. He sees them regularly. And will support financially.

Our respective families are very traditional and keep saying we should have worked harder to stay together for the children. They wil be damaged in the future. That parents need do be selfless. I should sacrifice what i want for my children. That they may appear fine now but it will manifest itself when they're teenagers. That they "need" their dad. That a mum and dad living together is essential for stability.

It's making me worried and second guess myself.

We do need to separate so there's no chance of reconciliation anyway...

Will my children be ok????????

OP posts:
Hoppinggreen · 24/09/2016 09:28

As a child of parents who stayed together " for the children" I can tell you that they WILL be damaged by you and your H staying together.

Mirandawest · 24/09/2016 09:36

My XH and I split up when our DC were 7 and 5. They're now 12 and 11 and seem to be fine. Both XH and I are now married to other people and overall I'd say things are good Smile

cloudyday99 · 24/09/2016 09:46

My DS was similar when my ex moved out. He said that was fine. I worried he wasn't, but really, he was fine. He hadn't enjoyed me and my ex arguing and thought having two homes seemed perfectly sensible.

He's 16 now, and would still tell you that he wasn't in any way traumatised or upset about us separating. It's just part of his life. He finds coming and going between two houses a bit annoying sometimes, but I would say it's on a par with having a bit of a long journey to school or similar. Vaguely annoying, no worse.

I felt a huge stigma myself being the first in my family to split up, but sometimes you need to accept that older generations lived in a different world from you. If your DC say they're fine, then for now at least they probably feel fine.

I think you should try and make sure there do see their dad regularly of possible. That may mean he's on a steep learning curve for actually looking after them on his own.

AppleAndBlackberry · 24/09/2016 10:15

The worst thing for me about my parents' divorce was the animosity between them, the fact that my Dad would blow up if we mentioned my Mum's new partner and the general sense of anxiety about my Dad's behaviour. If you can keep it friendly between you and avoid criticising each other you'll be doing your kids a big favour. If you can stay on good terms and make decisions together and if he can have regular contact then you'll be doing your best not to damage them.

ArcheryAnnie · 24/09/2016 10:26

A very wise friend of mine once said "sometimes families are fixed by divorce, not broken". It's made me think of it in quite a different light ever since.

I am the child of parents who never separated. My childhood was utterly miserable, my home a source of stress and anxiousness, and it all left me with very poor role models of what a "normal" family life and good parenting meant.

My son is the child of parents who separated. We took years separating because we both thought we should work it out - I wish we'd separated a lot sooner in retrospect. I am much happier, and so is my ex. He went from utterly useless father (my DS didn't notice when he moved out - that's how bad he was) to someone my DS as a teenager has a really good relationship with. Me and ex (and his new wife, who I like) are friends now in a way we never could have been when we were together.

If your relationship is unfixable then your children will be better off, I promise, with you apart.

salamandress · 24/09/2016 10:31

Thanks for sharing all your experiences.

I am sure I wil need to ensure we are polite. Probably we are being a bit cold to each other but it's early days yet. I was finding it a bit difficult and would kind of pretend he wasn't there in my house when he was seeing kids and I am worried they ignore him when he comes in the house. But he ignores them too! He's always too busy for them so my daughter stopped trying. Sometimes they get on ok. I will actively ensure to "big him up" to them. I have no animosity just hurt so that's fine. I will praise his strengths to them. That's fine. And I'm sure we will wil be able to go for a mum and dad and kids dinner if they would like that and won't be harmful for them (I'll read up.)

He's a doctor . When my daughter has an ache it a hurt I tell her to ask him and she says "but he doesn't do anything about it". Says it really.

Oh god late for birthday party. Thank you all!!!!

OP posts:
iamred · 24/09/2016 12:35

My parents split when I was 7. It was relatively amicable, best of a bad situation etc though bitterness on both sides has reared its ugly head in various guises. Actually I think it's bothered me more in my 30s than when I was a kid.

I think it is damaging when the two people you should love and trust and ultimately be the most stable things in your life go their separate ways. My reference of a healthy relationship isn't quite what it should be (parents both happily married but the step parent/sibling dynamic is still tricky to navigate now, 30 years on) and I find now that I'm actually not sure how to exist in a normal relationship.

Tbh I think there's a strong possibility that parents mess up their kids in some way or another. Divorce is potentially one but your happiness is important so I don't think it's wort staying together just for the kids.

I desperately wanted my parents to stay together, mainly because them splitting up meant change - new house, new school, seeing dad EOW, having to deal with step parents, split Xmas and holidays (actually I loathe Xmas because I still get bogged down with the responsibility of making sure everyone is treated/visited equally and hate the thought of one set of parents alone whilst we have a jolly up with the other set)... I would have rather have not had to deal with all that, but it would've been horrific if my parents had stayed together (especially seeing through my adult eyes now and knowing them as I do).

Dealing with grandparent politics is fun now we have DC. They all try to be civil and get along but knowing they are all gritting their teeth and being polite means I find family events a bit tense. But I suspect that's me more than anything.

It's shit whichever way you look at it really, but by no means the end of the world. You just have to choose the least damaging way forward.

Sorry if that makes you feel worse, just wanted to give my perspective..... Good luck.

WombatChocolate · 24/09/2016 12:45

Even if divorce is the right thing in the long run and creates a better situation, there will be fall out and damage. It is unavoidable, however much you want to avoid it. In an ideal world people would be happy together.... But its not an ideal world.
So the key is to acknowledge that damage will happen.....and minimise it.

wayway13 · 24/09/2016 12:54

My parents stayed together and that is what damaged my siblings and I. We could have had two happy parents instead of a completely toxic childhood.

Your relationship isn't working. The kindest thing you can do imo is to leave. Let your children see you happy.

iamred · 24/09/2016 20:31

wombat articulated what I was trying to say in a much better way!

salamandress · 25/09/2016 06:21

It's good to hear from you iamred and wombat. I'm taking your warnings on board and will try to be sensitive to their needs even if they appear Ok. I must have said "it's not your fault" to my daughter quite a few times as she proudly repeated that fact to our neighbour yesterday. "It's not me or my brothers fault at all". :)

Neither my ex nor I are overly stubborn and won't be sentimental about Christmas etc. I.e. I will b happy to defer celebrations etc. And he isn't religious anyway. I am scared of the influence that his extremely religious parents will have without me hovering around to minimise their influence though. They're very vocal and I'm scared they'll give a warped view of religion to my kids. I'd rather they "made their own choices".

Neither my nor my ex's parents separated and we are both quite fucked up. I don't like to think my daughter will see a partnership where we just hate each other. That wouldn't instil healthy values either.

Thanks for the luck! :) :)

OP posts:
WombatChocolate · 25/09/2016 09:27

Yes, all the best. Its so hard to try and be kind and gracious and reasonable with an ex going through divorce when there are so many emotions telling you not to, and when they don't always treat you right. Trying to keep open communication is key.....but its the key to a successful relationship too, so chances are you don't have that!

Remember your kids will need a very long time to process what has and is happening. Don't keep aski gbhow they are - they won't really know themselves yet....and even then, being totally honest with you who is right in the middle of it all and feeling emotional yourself is very hard.

Is there someone else close who is able to be pretty neutral who they can talk to? It can help them voice their feelings. Resist asking that person what they is for them, not you.

Best of luck. And try to treat your ex well and don't bad mouth him. It speaks volumes to the kids.

salamandress · 25/09/2016 10:25

Good tip about letting someone neutral to talk to kids wombat.
They're only 5 & 7 and we are close and open generally so that's why I ask them regularly if they're ok.

OP posts:
Notapodling · 29/09/2016 18:18

The damage comes from bad relationships and unhappy parents, whether that's fighting during a divorce or fighting during a marriage.
I think that children whose parents put their welfare at the forefront of the split are going to be much happier than those whose parents stay in an unhappy marriage.

RitchyBestingFace · 29/09/2016 18:30

OP, taking your posts at face value, I think your DCs will be fine. They have a mother who listens to them, who acknowledges other's points of view and who has a lot of emotional intelligence. That counts for a lot - regardless of the circumstances.

salamandress · 29/09/2016 21:00

Finding it so hard to be civil to him :(

our communication is abysmal at the moment.

It's my fault really. I'm content to speak to him at times and at other times like this evening and a few days ago just being extremely bitchy, rude, short, argumentative :(

It's so hard.

OP posts:
DiegeticMuch · 03/11/2016 20:17

My friend's parents broke up a few weeks after her youngest sibling started university. Turns out they'd been unhappy for ages but had decided to wait until the three children had flown the nest, before separating formally. My friend felt very guilty about it. She wishes they hadn't dithered.

My other mate's parents split when he was 35. His mum had been deeply unhappy for over 20 years (she divulged this to him by accident). He was really crushed. He is still not over the shock, 8 years later, and refuses to meet his mother's new husband or to allow his children to spend time with him. He says (wrongly I'm sure, but it's how he feels) that his childhood was a sham.

Don't stay together for the kids.

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