How do you help your kids deal with a parent loss?

Sandra - posted on 12/17/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Hi, I am new to this. My children are 8 and 10 years old and recently the man (Don/Dad) they called dad left us for another relationship. He had been with us for 4 years. Both kids are feeling a major loss. There is a lot to this story and I am not sure how much to write, bottom line is how do I help my children grieve? Any suggestions on how to help them through this time?

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Louise - posted on 12/17/2010

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You just have to be open and honest and tell them. They are old enough to understand that it is not because of them that he has left. Tell them that you have grown apart and then leave it at that. You must be feeling heart broken yourself and the kids will see this. This man would be heartless to just cut them off altogether as he has helped raise them for the last 4 years. Sit the kids down at the table and tell them that they can ask you anything and you will do your best to answer them. Kids do not like to be kept in the dark and would prefer to know what is going on. It is going to be hard for all of you to adjust so try and spend some time together doing things to bond you. The children will soon get used to the new family dynamics. Make sure you have time to heal as well, break ups like this affect you more than you think.

I feel for you I really do, I hope you can move on and find love again with a man that will cherish you. God Bless

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Hayley - posted on 12/17/2010

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Hey Louise,
my thoughts are with you. I do know how you feel - altho it was my husband and the father of my children who left when I was pregnant with our fourth child. I guess it depends on how much input this man wants with your kids still and how much they want to be around him. If he does want input then you tell them that their job is to love him and the other stuff is for grown ups - I tell my kids that all the time. If however, he and the children would prefer to make a clean break - then I would do just that - whether this be as drastic as moving house - or making other radical changes - or by making subtle changes. If you build up to the time where you are going to make these changes, whilst making it clear that the time up until then is a grieving time, then you guys can have something to look forward to. Whatever you decide to do, there must be a 'turning point' and as their mum, you are their example. So if you are positive and excited about the change, then they will be - even if you decide together what the changes will be. I have found that the way I cope with our situation is to be the kids leader as well as their mum - and we are turning evey negative into a positive.
I also know how your children feel as when I was a child, we had a stepfather who was apart of our lives from the ages of 5 -10 - when my mum divorced him, he practically disappeared from our life in one way, and it kinda hurt a bit. Just remember that your children have been hurt also and they do need time - but as their mum - you need to give them something to look forward to and strive towards - so that they are confident that you guys are going to be fine without this man!! Hope this helps and that everything turns out well for you all!!xx

Angela - posted on 12/17/2010

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I think the most important thing to do is to spend lots of time with them and to expect them to be upset. Don't ask them not to be upset, accept their feelings and have some activities available to help them cope, this can be something creative like drawing, painting or even baking. Something athletic like football or the park or even something healthily destructive like tearing up phone books or punching cushions. Things won't be easy for a while but ride it out. I'm not trying to be melodratic but both you and your children have experienced a loss, almost like a death in the family. There will be some grieving but give it time and things will get better.

Sandra - posted on 12/17/2010

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Thanks so much Louise. I have been as open as I can with them. Because of what happened, I was advised not to let him contact them anymore. His calls seem to hurt them more, than help.

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