Telling children about divorce.

Michelle - posted on 01/06/2009 ( 11 moms have responded )

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I am in the process of divorcing my kids' dad. He will not sit down with me to tell them officially what is going on, although they have already been asking a lot of questions. I think it's important that they hear it from both of us, but I know that I am the one who is going to have to tell them, since he refuses to face any responsibility for important matters concerning the kids. I need suggestions on how to explain things to them in terms they will understand.

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Claire - posted on 01/08/2009

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Sounds a bit like my ex but to be honest, i found it better to talk alone with my son (he was just 6)...at least I could talk to him without  me and his dad ending up disagreeing in front of him. The main thing is to make it as positive as possible and I made sure my son knew that both his dad and I still loved him the same and that he would still have both of us there raising him.



No matter how or what you say though, kids do tend to lash out and often its mum who gets it...because she is there. My son soon accepted things but still can get a bit upset at times even now he is 9, but I just tell him its great...he gets to spend time doing fun things with us seperately (resulting in more treats)...he gets 2 houses, 2 birthday parties, 2 christmasses etc.



If he does get a bit upset or ask why...I usually tell him that me and his dad are happier now and just as we want him to be happy, he has to understand that we have to be happy too. He understands that and agrees that its better for parents to be happy and apart than together and unhappy/arguing.



Good luck x



 

Connie - posted on 01/08/2009

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I'd tell them that "mommy and daddy have to live apart otherwise they argue and fight.  If they live apart, chances are they will get along better."  My son's counselor told me "one good thing w/kids of divorce is that kids are very resiliant and they tend to recover and bounce right back."  Him saying that always stays in the back of my mind and eases my guilt for my son and anxiety in dealing with the EX!

Michelle - posted on 01/07/2009

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Thanks for the helpful suggestions!  I have been in therapy for a few years now for depression and anxiety issues, most of them dealing with problems in the marriage.  My oldest has been in therapy to help with ADHD and anger issues.  I already feel so much better since I finally made up my mind to go through with the divorce, and some of the tension in the house (no, he has not moved out yet) has been alleviated.  My oldest  seems to actually be doing a little better-maybe as a reflection that his parents are feeling better. 



We are going to stay in our home, so as not to disrupt them any more than they will already be.  The divorce papers have been prepared and we have both attended the mandatory parenting classes.  Just waiting now for him to get a place to live and sign the papers.  I'm worried that he is not in a hurry to move out, but my lawyer is kind of prodding him to get going. 



 He is a good dad, as far as spending time with them, but he has never participated much in the difficult parts of parenting.  There is no infidelity or violence, so I felt guilty at first being so unhappy.  My therapist made me realize that there was a great deal of emotional abuse, though, because of cruel criticisms and the withholding of communication, affection, and partnership.  I really believe that he has some personal issues and/or depression  that he refuses to deal with, while I have dealt with mine, grown, and am ready to move forward. 



I am so disappointed because neither one of us comes from broken families, both sets of parents have been married for 40 -plus years, so I did not expect this to happen at all, especially since we dated for 5 years before we married.  His personality was so different from mine that I thought we complemented each other.  I did not realize how detrimental these differences would become once we had children, especially with him so unwilling to communicate.  I read an article about marriage that had an interesting quote that I thought described our marriage to a T.  It said "Opposites attract, and then they attack". 



One of my work friends jokingly gave me an ultimatum today that I had to tell my kids by Friday, or I was going to be officially known as a "bad mother".  I am a teacher in a small town and people are starting to gossip, and I do not want my children to accidentally hear it from someone else.  It is difficult to conduct your life in such a way that people won't know what's going on, especially when you're taking separate vacations, not participating in the kids's activities together, not attending church together, and having to leave work early to go to the lawyer's office!  I have always gotten along well with his parents, but I had to tell them about the divorce, because he wouldn't.  That was very awkward, although his mother kind of expected it , because I told her last Thanksgiving that I was consulting lawyers.  She says that he never said a word to them about us having problems.  My husband took the kids twice during the holidays to visit them in Alabama and at their beach house in Florida, and my kids kept asking why I was not going with them.   I hope his parents don't think that I am trying to avoid them, but  my husband and I can  no longer spend that much time around each other without a lot of tension and resentment. 



I am hopeful that things will be better in the long run.  I just hope to make the adjustments as easy as I can for the kids and contine to do so through the various issues that will come from this as they get older.

Lindsey - posted on 01/07/2009

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Quoting Michelle:

Telling children about divorce.

I am in the process of divorcing my kids' dad. He will not sit down with me to tell them officially what is going on, although they have already been asking a lot of questions. I think it's important that they hear it from both of us, but I know that I am the one who is going to have to tell them, since he refuses to face any responsibility for important matters concerning the kids. I need suggestions on how to explain things to them in terms they will understand.



Hi  michelle



Ive recently been through something just as seriouse an i was given the advice of a gudian that my son had  at the time.  She got me a book from the libary which had a story on it explaining it all.



Before i read my son the story i explained it was like our life an what was happening in it .Soon as i had read him the book he understud alot more than i thought he would an then asked the questions he wasnt sure of. This is worth a try if they are youngish .Dont know if this will help but worth a try im sure your local libary will have many in the childrens section. Good luck love linds. x

Amanda - posted on 01/07/2009

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Remember...they are smarter than we think! They are getting bits and pieces and forming their own conclusions which can bring on anxiety and problems! From here on out...you cannot control the ex, what he says or does or doesn't to! Family dynamics is what I am studying (I want to be a Sociologist) and the most I have learned from research is talk to them...do not sugar coat anything, but do not give them the intimate details. Just tell them mommy and daddy wanted to get married and have you guys, but we decided we would be happier living apart! Make them understand that they were the best part of the marriage and they still are. I have seen my stepkids form some amazing conclusions when they didn't know the answers. Good luck! If they are younger than school age (K-5), show them what divorce is...on TV, some shows have divorced parents and on the internet (I think the site is Parents ANswers or something like that). Talk about other people they know or you know who is divorced. Then tell them the benefits (two Christmas's, two birthdays, special alone time with daddy!) Just try and make it a smooth change...very hard, but you can do it!!

Lorraine - posted on 01/07/2009

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Divorce can be hard on the children or then again it can be a good thing depends on the situation that has happened when you and your husband was together.  My husband left me in 2003 for my best friend my children where 8 and 13 at the time.  My children where amazing the dealt with it in there own why.  I didnt moan about there dad say anything that would upset them.   My ex husband is a great dad turned up when he promised to took them to nice place did load of things for then and with them.  I have moved to canada i live with my boyfriend here and Im getting re-married in june.  My boys live with there dad i sure them 4 times last year.  My youngest did deal with me moving away at 1st but he's come around now Bradley is 15 now.  Both the boys are coming here in feb.  Myself and my husband get on better now than we did when we was married and the has rubbed off on the boys.     depends on the age on the children that will depend how they deal with mummy and daddy not living together anymore.   I send u best wishes and hope everything works out for u

Jessica - posted on 01/06/2009

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As a child of divorce, I would ask you to be honest with them, be ready to answer tough questions, and if at all possible, don't bad-mouth their father in front of them.  Assure them that this is between you and their dad, that they are all loved by both of you and that you both want to be with them.  This is just healthier for everyone because sometimes grown-ups realize they will get along better living apart.  You are obviously a good mom for seeking the advice, so keep showing them you care and they'll get through it with you.  Also, don't be afraid to seek counseling for all of you, together and separately.  Do not doubt that this will affect them for the rest of their lives, but you can help them get through it in a healthy way. Seek help from family and friends who you trust.  Good luck to you.

Jessica - posted on 01/06/2009

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As a child of divorce, I would ask you to be honest with them, be ready to answer tough questions, and if at all possible, don't bad-mouth their father in front of them.  Assure them that this is between you and their dad, that they are all loved by both of you and that you both want to be with them.  This is just healthier for everyone because sometimes grown-ups realize they will get along better living apart.  You are obviously a good mom for seeking the advice, so keep showing them you care and they'll get through it with you.  Also, don't be afraid to seek counseling for all of you, together and separately.  Do not doubt that this will affect them for the rest of their lives, but you can help them get through it in a healthy way. Seek help from family and friends who you trust.  Good luck to you.

User - posted on 01/06/2009

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I just wanted to add that you definitely want to reassure them that they did not cause the divorce. Time and time again, children blame themselves for their parents' divorce. Also, encourage them to ask questions, and if they're not ready to, tell them you'll be there anytime to answer any questions they may have.

User - posted on 01/06/2009

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Hi Michelle -



Your kids are perceiving alot already.  Be factual, honest and reassure them that they are loved by both and that is never going to change.  It won't be easy but may come as somewhat of a relief to them.  I went through the same thing and it seemed to go OK.



Good luck!

Samantha - posted on 01/06/2009

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They are kids, they won't understand until they're old enough to know what divorce really actually is. To them, it just means Daddy won't be around anymore. Tell them that, and that they will still get to see him, but he just won't be living with you anymore.
In my opinion that is the only simplest way you could tell them, and they'd understand it too. They don't need to know the deep down and dirty details of why "Daddy" won't be around anymore. Don't need to hear "I don't love him anymore" or any other reason for why this divorce is happening. Just simply that he won't be living with you, but they will need to be reassured that they will still get to see him. They might be upset, but who wouldn't be? No matter what age you are!
My Aunty is going through the same thing, her children are 5, 7, and 9. And even though I'm young, I watch a lot of tv talk shows, read a lot of books, so i learn a lot of things about all different types of situations and whatnot when you're a mother. She said I helped her with this advice, so I hope it helped you as well.

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