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how do I tell my 4 year old son?

11 replies

nattybb · 13/08/2010 23:06

hi there, I am new to this site but would really appreciate any advice you mums can give me. I have a beautiful 4 year old son josh, He is my world. I am currently going through a divorce from his dad, He has cheated and I dont trust him anymore, But my son is so close to us both, I am looking for somewhere to rent at the moment as I can't afford to stay in our home, My big worry is how to tell my son that we won't all be living together anymore, Josh gets so upset when his dad goes out just for the night, and the thought of telling him that his dad wont live with us anymore breaks my heart! also having to up root him from his home and friends in the neighbourhood, I just don't know how to tell him and what to tell him, I can't sleep for worrying about it! please help me! thankyou guys.

OP posts:
Jaybird37 · 13/08/2010 23:47

nattybb sorry to hear you are going through such a tough time.

I would suggest that you talk to him with his dad. He will be upset, but that is unavoidable and he will get over it.

I found the car is often a good place for follow up conversations with my kids, because they found the lack of eye contact easier when they wanted to ask difficult questions.

nattybb · 14/08/2010 23:29

thankyou, thats a good idea, i'll try it out
people keep telling me that he will be fine and that its me whos more worked up, but i worry about it affecting him in adulthood too.

OP posts:
whoknows2010 · 14/08/2010 23:45

I have recently split with mt partner and dreaded telling my 4 year old as he has always been very close to both of us.
All I did was told him that me and his Daddy wanted to live in our own houses from now on as we wanted our own bedrooms and more space, he accepted it and so far have had no problems at all and we have lived seperately or a few weeks now.
I also had to move into a new place and I just gave him the hard-sell, ie that he gets a big new bedroom and new garden where he can have his slide etc and he loves it here.

It really has suprised me how much he has taken it all in his stride, a miilon times better than i thought he would.

I would recommend though that you dont give him too many details about why you are splitting with his Dad as he is too young to understand properly and it may affect their relationship if he associates his Dad with causing you to be upset.

Just keep reassuring him that even though you live in different houses you still both love him more and more everyday, and dont be negative towards his Dad however tempting it is as this will only upset him.

He will be fine, I think that seeing both of his parents happy but seperate is much less damaging to him than being broght up in a house full of anger, hurt and mistrust.

Good luck

MeganMog · 14/08/2010 23:59

It's hard, but on the plus side they are very accepting at that age. I split up from my DDs' Dad when they were 3 and 1, they are now 14 and 13 - see their Dad regularly and (I think!) are very well adjusted teenagers.

Communication is really important, as well as consistency - so he needs to know when he will see his Dad, and for that to happen. Good luck.

nattybb · 21/08/2010 00:11

thanks for all your advice, its good to talk to mums who've been through the same thing, and hopefully he will take it not too bad, hes a sensitive little soul though! x

OP posts:
booyhoo · 21/08/2010 00:17

natty i ahve literally just had to do this (on sunday) with ds1(5). i think teh most important things are to acknowledge his feelings ("you are very sad about this aren't you ds?, mummy knows you are sad, mummy is sad too." and lots of cuddles)and to let him know that mummy and daddy still love him exactly the same and you will both be better parents when you don't have to argue anymore.

be prepared to have a lot of unexpected tears from him. ds has taken to weeping at the most random moments and will lift the photo of exp and start crying. also, bad behaviour may creep in, some children are uncomfortable when too much attention is turned on them, they feel they should be doing something for teh attention and so act up.

PintandChips · 23/08/2010 22:46

There is a brilliant book called Two Homes about a little boy who had... two homes! It was great for me to use with DS when his dad and i split. We still read it together now sometimes, 18 months on. i really recommend it.

view it here

MavisGrind · 23/08/2010 22:52

Nattybb - I had to do this when ds1 was 3. I just went down the route that "sometimes mummys and daddys don't live in the same house" and he has actually hardly asked any questions about it at all. They will take their cues from you at this age, my two now just accept that there is our house and daddy's house as a fact of their lives.

Hope you're doing ok with it all.

SamJones · 23/08/2010 23:00

Also bear in mind that you could well have to have follow up conversations over time as his understandings of adult relationships change.

I split with my ex 2.5 yrs ago when my ds was 5 and though he accepted it well enough at the time, we have had odd times where I have had to talk it through with him again. For instance he had heard people talking about 'breaking up' and suddenly asked me if we had broken up, as if he had suddenly related that concept to his own situation.

Imo the most important things are to be as open as you can with children, at a level they can understand, if its at all possible try and maintain a 'united front' with their father in terms of how you look after them, and of course emphasis that whatever happens their dad will always be their dad and will always love them.

I have managed to maintain a friendly relationship with my ex and recently I was talking to dd (12) about how she felt about the split, and she said that it was fine because she knew that 'you and daddy are still good friends, not like X's who are always arguing'.
I realise that it isn't always possible to do this, but if you can keep things at least civil I believe it is a big help.

Good luck.

anapaula31 · 24/08/2010 10:39

Please don't worry about it nattybb he will be fine, just make sure he gets lots of time with his dad, I woulnd't say anything now as he is quite yonger, but pretend that he's dad is out for a while until he gets used not to spend so much time with him, he will fell more confident about the idea instead of having to confront a lost in such a yonger age, I also have a son now he's 14 and I've broke up with my ex and my son, is totally stable..I am sure your son will be fine, just never show him that this is a difficult moment...always show him that you both are having a lot of fun!!! Smile

hairytriangle · 24/08/2010 15:33

If this were me, I'd be considering joint residency, 50/50 as a starting point. That would in itself make it easier for your son to understand and cope with as it wouldn't be a case of one parent not being around as much any more.

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