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Kids looking for a reason - what to say?

Pages: 1 · 2

Perdita1 posted 6/2/2021 16:44 PM

So we told the kids a few days ago. My 9 year old was really pressuring me today to explain why. I talked about how relationships change, stressed that it was an adult decision for adult reasons and could not be any of the childrenís fault, talked about how mummy and daddy will see if things work better if we live in separate houses...but nothing was enough for her. Any ideas for what to say that is both true and age-appropriate? She seems very scared of the idea that mummy and daddy donít like each other any more. I told her I would think about the best way to explain it to her and get back to her.

dogcopter posted 6/2/2021 17:46 PM

Oh wow, no I don't know the answer to this. Will keep an eye on the conversation though.

My girls asked why but the didn't press it. We were able to divert attention away. I don't feel it's ever a good idea to let them even get a whiff of who is to blame. Age appropriate for that is much older I think.

Justsomeguy posted 6/2/2021 17:53 PM

I cant tell you what to say, but I can tell you not to lie. The truth can hurt, but a low from someone who should have your back, is even worse. I think it's okay to defer the conversation for a later time. Just tell her that you are not in a place where you can go into dress, but one day you will be able to talk about it in a more open manner. She is most likely looking for answers to why her life is falling apart. She wants control back. As BS's,we can all identify.

million pieces posted 6/2/2021 18:20 PM

There was a great book that went through the separation/divorce process with different aged kids. It was a little textbook, my kids' family therapist had recommended it, I'll try to find the title. I do know that this book and many others stressed for young kids (<8yrs I think) don't mention that mommy and daddy stopped loving each other, because they aren't old enough to realize that parents just don't stop loving their kids.

Marz posted 6/2/2021 18:46 PM

Tell the truth in a sanitary way.

Karmafan posted 6/3/2021 05:48 AM

Perdita, IMHO your girl is too too young to hear the truth. I regret exposing my kids (who were of a similar age) to the truth and the conflict and they were really affected by it. My son was convinced it was all his fault and he needed some pretty hard core counselling to get over that.

If I could go back, I would say to them, we will always be friends, and will always make you our priority, but we have grown apart and we believe we would be happier if we were living in different houses. But we will always like and care for each other and will always be your mom and dad.


dogcopter posted 6/3/2021 06:49 AM

If I could go back, I would say to them, we will always be friends, and will always make you our priority, but we have grown apart and we believe we would be happier if we were living in different houses. But we will always like and care for each other and will always be your mom and dad.

Yes, I agree whole heatedly with this. This is pretty much what we did, sand it felt right.

prissy4lyfe posted 6/3/2021 09:55 AM

my kids know the truth...

Daddy had a girlfriend and he cant do that when married. It hurt my feelings and we need to be apart right now. We both love you and we will always love you.

And we had the added issue of him not wanting the separation...

I told them we needed the space to cool things down because when someone hurts you or break your boundaries you can take as much time as you need to work thru it but we would make sure they saw him all the time.

My kids have adjusted EXTREMELY well. Also they have the words to ask for what they need. The other day my daughter told her BFF that she hurt her feelings with something she said. That she needed a couple of days because she was upset and they would talk then.

I WAS SO PROUD OF HER!

stubbornft posted 6/3/2021 10:12 AM

9 is really young. I would consider finding a family therapist that you could talk to about what is appropriate, and maybe have some sessions with your kiddo. Divorce is a lot, no matter how amicable. And hearing that your parent cheated can be very traumatic.

gemini12 posted 6/3/2021 10:57 AM

IMO, a 9 year old child today knows way more than I did when I was nine.

Your daughter's questions tell me she is ready for a very sanitized version of the truth.

Read prissy4lyfe's post to see how it can be explained truthfully but tactfully.

When my son asks me a direct question, I answer him truthfully. He knows when I'm hedging and trying to dodge the question.

Unrealized posted 6/3/2021 13:10 PM

I think itís best to tell them the truth - age appropriate. I did and donít regret it. I told them that mum and dad still love them, that they are the most important kids in the world but what mum did is unacceptable and I cannot be near her (when you are married you donít have boyfriends). In fact I havenít spoken to the WW since D day. She has made no effort and quite frankly I donít have any desire to speak to her ever again. On a side note the kids said that the MIL was slagging me off the other day. If you lie you run the risk of the other party rewriting history.

Mari104 posted 6/3/2021 14:03 PM

My son is 9 and he knows "daddy hurt mommy and broke his marriage promises to her." He knows that daddy "was doing things with another woman that was not mommy." He asks questions sometimes and I have been told by my therapist as well as my children's therapist to ALWAYS be honest with them.

I spent years protecting my STBWXH from his selfish choices. YEARS. He took advantage of me and my children's compassion and empathy for a very long time. I also have a daughter who is 13 now and barely speaks to her father. I never directly told her. Too much took place for her not to know what was happening. She did ask me questions and I gave her honest, age appropriate answers. For a long time, I "pushed" her in a sense to have a relationship with her dad. Even during the times he kept screwing up and hurting her. In a way, she resented me for it, but now sees the manipulation that was taking place....because in many ways, he manipulated her as well. Children pick up on much more than we give them credit for.

The most important thing you can do for your child during times like this is to be honest. Affairs are all about lies and deceit. Our children deserve better. They deserve compassion. They deserve to feel safe and know what tomorrow brings. They deserve honesty. It is not the BS's responsibility to bare the consequences of our WS shitty choices. That is on them. We have enough to deal with. Just having to heal from so much hurt and destruction is enough. Give yourself compassion and know that if the age appropriate truth ends up hurting your child, it was not you that caused that. It was your WS. They are the ones that have to live with that.

[This message edited by Mari104 at 2:04 PM, June 3rd (Thursday)]

Bigger posted 6/4/2021 04:36 AM

Maybe Ė for the kid Ė the true worry is that if mom and dad can stop being a family then maybe their family unit isnít really that safeÖ They worry that they Ė the kids Ė become ďdisposableĒ and might face the risk of mom and/or dad abandoning them.
Iím no expert, but maybe the key lies in explaining (in a child appropriate way) that you find and select your spouse but kids are part of you. Somehow get the message across that the relationship a parent has (be it the dad or the mom) is completely separate and unique from the relationship binding a mom and dad. Make them feel safe.

DanielJK posted 6/4/2021 06:16 AM

My daughters are 14 and 16.

I told them something like...

"I hope you will understand that I can't stay married to your mother while she is seeing another man...I will be moving out."

annanew posted 6/6/2021 00:55 AM


Abstract reasons are not enough. Why would ďweíve grown apartĒ make sense to a 9 yo? Itís basically like saying ďthatís just the way it isĒ.

Kids should be told the truth. ďYour mom/dad had a girlfriend/boyfriend while we were married, and that is not acceptable to me.Ē

homewrecked2011 posted 6/6/2021 03:50 AM

My childrenís counselor at the domestic violence center said I had to be honest with them, as much as the honesty hurt. She said the deceit and swirling around of issues in dysfunction families is more damaging that allowing the children to process the truth. She said that itís their life thatís being torn to shreds and they deserve their parent to be honest with them and let them process the information. But, not to give horrid details. She told our children (with me there) dad has a girlfriend and it was completely unacceptable to Mom. That they will be taken care of by both parents, but that we wonít be married anymore. It took a year of counseling for the kids to get to a place where they learned to stand up to their Dad when he STILL tries to rewrite their own truth, but they learned it is ok to have boundaries, and deal with life head on.

Fwiw bad things happen to people. My brother died when I was 2. My best friendís father died in elementary school, etc. Helping the children process events real time will probably help them live in reality as they grow up, but itís just my experience.

[This message edited by homewrecked2011 at 3:51 AM, June 6th (Sunday)]

Perdita1 posted 6/6/2021 13:31 PM

Thanks for all the replies, Iím still processing them and thankfully DD9 has not pushed hard again so Iím taking this opportunity to think. (The one other time it came up she quickly moved on to her fears of stepfamilies and being forgotten.)

I do believe in being truthful with my kids, I try very hard not to lie to them. I also try to only answer the question they are actually asking. How would I explain prostitution to my poor little ones? (STBX didnít have a girlfriend, but did use sex workers.) They havenít come across that concept yet.

homewrecked2011 posted 6/6/2021 15:52 PM

Iím glad you clarified, bc I personally wouldnít them about the sex workers. Maybe someone will respond who has had to go thru this ....

dogcopter posted 6/6/2021 16:04 PM

I am 100% in the camp that telling them details at age 9 is most often times not the best. This is with all respect to prissy 4life who knows her kids much much better than dogcopter on the internet. Every kid is different. But everything I've read backs up what Bigger said. They are questioning the basics of their reality. The most important thing is that parents can divorce each other, but parents will never divorce the children.

Plus I get the feeling that the more they know, the more they may try to fix it. I nagged my dad as a kid trying to get him to stop smoking. Not telling them the details puts it far outside of their control and maybe saves them from feeling bad that they couldn't convince daddy or mommy to stop.

[This message edited by dogcopter at 4:05 PM, June 6th (Sunday)]

csaiht posted 6/9/2021 00:33 AM

I recently read a book called When Parents Cheat by Ana Nogales that you may find helpful.

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