Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
02-01-2014, 09:56 AM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2014 10:39 AM by Escape Artist.)
Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
As some of you know, I had posted quite a bit and in various sections of the forum regarding my marital troubles. I'm happy to say that I finally reached a decision on that and have since moved my children and myself out of the house and back in with my parents. The husband and I are getting a divorce (though he may not be quite convinced of my seriousness, but that is not the issue at hand here) and my youngest child is having a difficult time dealing with everything.

See, he's 8 years old (going on 9 - will be 9 by the end of February) and so he's not quite young enough for this all to be over his head, but neither is he quite old enough to know what to make of a divorce.

When we broke the news to him, he kept wanting to know who'd started it, who wanted the divorce, etc. He asked if this meant we weren't his mom and dad anymore. He thought he might have to live with someone else. He asked if he was going to have stepparents.

Husband told him, "I didn't want this, buddy. Momma-" to which I cut him off with a sharp look. Yes, I want the divorce, and it may be too much to ask of the husband to present a united front to the children, but still it seemed to me that he was already trying to paint me as the villain in all this. At any rate, he did not finish the sentence and I told the kids that sometimes these things happen. That sometimes parents just can't get along anymore, so much so that they just can't be together anymore, but that when they split up, it's never, ever the children's faults. Never.

I told them that me and their dad still loved them very much and would always be their parents, it's just that mom and dad weren't going to live together anymore. I don't know if I was too standoffish or not, but I gave them their space to be angry or sad or whatever they were going to be because I feel like they have every right to feel all of those things toward the both of us. And I know that for me, when I'm really upset, I don't tend to want anyone coddling me or hovering over me. I want time to process and deal on my own.

Anyway, since the big announcement it's been a bit of a roller-coaster, especially for my son. He goes from questioning "Why?" over and over, to being angry and getting easily upset, to crying, to being just perfectly fine and like everything is cool. Just a gamut of emotions, the poor little guy. I have answered his "Why?" questions with telling him that daddy and I are not together anymore because of adult stuff, and that he doesn't need to worry himself over it, and that it's nothing at all to do with him, nothing at all that's his fault. When he gets angry and says he hates me, tells me to leave the room, I give him his space to vent. When he cries, I hold him or stroke his hair, tell him I love him and that things are hard right now, yes, but that we will get through them together. And when he's playing, asks me to join in, I do so.

I'm trying to do all the right things (that I know of to do, please give more suggestions if you have them) but sometimes I feel at a loss. Especially because I am not the only parent in the situation.

While I've been working the past week and a half (barring holidays off, of course), the husband has been at home. He calls the children all the day long, asking them to text him after he's talked to them. Which, I don't at all mind if he calls and chats with them, but all throughout the day? It just serves to bring it to the forefront of their minds that he isn't there when they could be doing their own thing and not worrying about it, at least for a little while.

He's promising them all kinds of things - like pets that they'd previously wanted but that we'd decided (from first-hand experience) they weren't mature enough to take care of, telling them they'll go out to the movies the next time they see him, or that they'll do this or that activity together. And again, that he's wanting to do things with the kids is fine, but it feels like he's bribing them or is competing with me for who's the cooler parent.

I can't be the cool parent. I have to be the jerk who doesn't let them stay the night with dad all week long because I'm following legal advice so as to give myself the best chance at primary custody. I have to be tough when my 8 year old cries and begs me to let him stay with dad because I care more about his being in a more emotionally-healthy environment than I do about winning any temporary popularity contest.

I just truly think the husband knows he doesn't have any power over me anymore, so he's grabbing at whoever he thinks he can manipulate, and unfortunately, that seems to be my children. I'm not sure how to deal with his behavior (at least not on their behalf, I can take him on just fine when it comes to him trying to wheedle or cajole with me, no big). And neither am I sure how to handle the fallout of those behaviors when it comes to my son - son getting upset that he can't go be with dad after dad has promised him the moon and all.

Lest y'all think I'm forgetting my oldest child, I'm not. She just seems to be dealing better. She's 12, will be 13 in May, and she saw all this coming so I think that's helped her and she's old enough to understand more of what is going on. Still, she has her bad days, but I at least am able to talk a little more frankly with her (not in regards to the messy details behind the divorce, of course, but just more of what she can expect) and my dad has been so great to be a good male role model for her right now. I think she is really taking a lot of comfort in his presence.

I've told her all the things I mentioned above - that I love her, that there's gonna be times where she's angry with me, or is just upset, or is sad or whatever, and that whatever she's feeling is fine. That if she wants to talk to me, I'm here, and that she has plenty of family and friends who will talk to her as well. So I *think* she is doing okay, but again if y'all have any suggestions in this area, I invite them.

I hope I haven't left anything out, so if there are questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Thank you all so much! I don't know that I'd have been able to do everything I needed to do up until this point if it weren't for the support I've received here. Y'all truly are family. Hug

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 7 users Like Escape Artist's post
02-01-2014, 02:09 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
Sounds like a fairly good handle on things as you make the transition! Thumbsup The biggest thing for kids is routine and predictability to feel safe and secure, and to know their child-to-parent relationships haven't changed even though your parent-to-parent relationship did. Divorce is a type of loss, which means they'll grieve, but it doesn't mean they won't get through this- especially with the awesome understanding from Mom, which you seem to have. Smile
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like LadyJane's post
02-01-2014, 02:14 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
(02-01-2014 02:09 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  Sounds like a fairly good handle on things as you make the transition! Thumbsup The biggest thing for kids is routine and predictability to feel safe and secure, and to know their child-to-parent relationships haven't changed even though your parent-to-parent relationship did. Divorce is a type of loss, which means they'll grieve, but it doesn't mean they won't get through this- especially with the awesome understanding from Mom, which you seem to have. Smile

Thank ya much! Hug I appreciate it.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2014, 02:42 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
just went through a divorce in 2010, 2 young kids. In retrospect I think I worked harder on the post marriage relationship with my ex than the marriage because I was horrified at the thought of the kids getting destroyed over it. I sat down with the ex when we started down that road and said, "look, regardless of how we got here, it isn't about you and me anymore, it is about our kids, they don't deserve to pay for our divorce emotionally, lets agree to work together for the kid's sake through this. We dont need to destroy each other because in the end the only ones who truly pay is our kids. We dont ever need to say anything negative about the other in front of the kids, no inferences, no implications, it just never needs to happen. I promise you I will always plaster on a smile and if I dont have anything positive to say about you, I will just change the subject...lets pretend like we are business partners in OURKIDS incorporated...lets invest financially, emotionally and physically into that business, business partners dont have to love one another, just have mutual respect and civility."

or words to that affect. 4 years later, and we still have a great relationship, we come over o teach others houses back and forth for holiday meals, we all go out to busch gardens or dinner together (me and my new wife, her and her new husband and the kids)...sounds crazy but it works, we all go to our kids sport events and sit beside each other...the investment has paid off, our kids are well adjusted, happy stable and feel loved knowing mommy and daddy get along. it isnt strange for my youngest, he is 8 yo now...it is just the way it is...an american family.

I wish you the best, swallow anger, ego and pride, and make the post marriage relationship work for the kids.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 4 users Like goodwithoutgod's post
02-01-2014, 02:54 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
(02-01-2014 02:42 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  just went through a divorce in 2010, 2 young kids. In retrospect I think I worked harder on the post marriage relationship with my ex than the marriage because I was horrified at the thought of the kids getting destroyed over it. I sat down with the ex when we started down that road and said, "look, regardless of how we got here, it isn't about you and me anymore, it is about our kids, they don't deserve to pay for our divorce emotionally, lets agree to work together for the kid's sake through this. We dont need to destroy each other because in the end the only ones who truly pay is our kids. We dont ever need to say anything negative about the other in front of the kids, no inferences, no implications, it just never needs to happen. I promise you I will always plaster on a smile and if I dont have anything positive to say about you, I will just change the subject...lets pretend like we are business partners in OURKIDS incorporated...lets invest financially, emotionally and physically into that business, business partners dont have to love one another, just have mutual respect and civility."

or words to that affect. 4 years later, and we still have a great relationship, we come over o teach others houses back and forth for holiday meals, we all go out to busch gardens or dinner together (me and my new wife, her and her new husband and the kids)...sounds crazy but it works, we all go to our kids sport events and sit beside each other...the investment has paid off, our kids are well adjusted, happy stable and feel loved knowing mommy and daddy get along. it isnt strange for my youngest, he is 8 yo now...it is just the way it is...an american family.

I wish you the best, swallow anger, ego and pride, and make the post marriage relationship work for the kids.

Thanks so much for your kind words.

One question for you (if it's not too personal - if it is, feel free to ignore): Was your divorce mutual? As in, did both parties want out of the marriage? I'm just wondering how much of that (if it was indeed a mutual break-up) factored into your spouse's willingness to play by the rules you listed above?

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2014, 02:58 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
Maybe he needs some more details. I know you don't want to share the details of why because it's an adult situation but to me it sounds like he has no idea why his world is being turned upside down and every time he asks he is told it isn't his fault but it doesn't actually answer anything.

Share with him what your older child knows.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2014, 03:00 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
(02-01-2014 02:54 PM)Escape Artist Wrote:  
(02-01-2014 02:42 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  just went through a divorce in 2010, 2 young kids. In retrospect I think I worked harder on the post marriage relationship with my ex than the marriage because I was horrified at the thought of the kids getting destroyed over it. I sat down with the ex when we started down that road and said, "look, regardless of how we got here, it isn't about you and me anymore, it is about our kids, they don't deserve to pay for our divorce emotionally, lets agree to work together for the kid's sake through this. We dont need to destroy each other because in the end the only ones who truly pay is our kids. We dont ever need to say anything negative about the other in front of the kids, no inferences, no implications, it just never needs to happen. I promise you I will always plaster on a smile and if I dont have anything positive to say about you, I will just change the subject...lets pretend like we are business partners in OURKIDS incorporated...lets invest financially, emotionally and physically into that business, business partners dont have to love one another, just have mutual respect and civility."

or words to that affect. 4 years later, and we still have a great relationship, we come over o teach others houses back and forth for holiday meals, we all go out to busch gardens or dinner together (me and my new wife, her and her new husband and the kids)...sounds crazy but it works, we all go to our kids sport events and sit beside each other...the investment has paid off, our kids are well adjusted, happy stable and feel loved knowing mommy and daddy get along. it isnt strange for my youngest, he is 8 yo now...it is just the way it is...an american family.

I wish you the best, swallow anger, ego and pride, and make the post marriage relationship work for the kids.

Thanks so much for your kind words.

One question for you (if it's not too personal - if it is, feel free to ignore): Was your divorce mutual? As in, did both parties want out of the marriage? I'm just wondering how much of that (if it was indeed a mutual break-up) factored into your spouse's willingness to play by the rules you listed above?

not at all, I wanted out, she wanted to go to counseling. I was in a situation where there was no ability on her part to meet in the middle about anything, it was her way or no way...so finally I walked. I stayed for 8 years "for the kids" before I realized the nightly fights and tensions were affecting them...

I paid heavily to assist her in the transition, as it was my idea...no I didnt have anyone "waiting in the wings" wasnt like that, I had just had enough of my kids paying for our inability to get along. I put $10k down on a new home for her and the kids, paid for the move, bought all new furniture, paid off her car, and I give her $32k a year in child support...she in return signed away her present and future rights to sue for any portion of my retirement.

I wanted to ensure I would be okay in the long run, and she and the kids would be okay immediately....painful but it worked, more importantly was refusing to enter any arguments once the decision was made...focus on the kids, it is the only thing that matters....in my opinion.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes goodwithoutgod's post
02-01-2014, 03:50 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
(02-01-2014 02:58 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  Maybe he needs some more details. I know you don't want to share the details of why because it's an adult situation but to me it sounds like he has no idea why his world is being turned upside down and every time he asks he is told it isn't his fault but it doesn't actually answer anything.

Share with him what your older child knows.

Honestly, if I were to sit him down and tell him why mom and dad are not getting back together, why we are getting divorced in the first place, I feel it'd all paint his father in a bad light and that's what I've been trying so hard to avoid.

Reasons for the divorce include:
  • financial irresponsibility (in the form of gambling; of jumping from one job to another - often going for months at a time between jobs; spending my paychecks as if they were his - he handled all the money and anything I spent had to be approved by him; many times he would pawn mine or the children's things in order to get money to pay bills because he'd spent our checks on other things)
  • dishonesty (he lied so much over the years that eventually I could just no longer trust him)
  • incompatibility (this factors in fairly low, to be honest, but he is still a Christian and I'm an atheist so we have two totally different mindsets in how problems can and should be solved)
  • sexual dissatisfaction (on my part, obviously not something to go into with either of my children)
  • controlling and manipulative behaviors (would use sex as a reward or lack of it as a punishment to get me to do things he wanted; would pout or give me the silent treatment if I didn't agree on a purchase he wanted to make; he had to approve of any friends I hung out with and inevitably he never approved anyone that I liked, I could only hang out with his friends or family; always wanted me around him, didn't want me having hobbies of my own and when I got them, he accused me of being selfish and not wanting to spend time with the family)
  • lack of communication (to this day he says I have never fully explained the reasons for my dissatisfaction with the marriage, though I've told him all of the above and then some, many times over)
  • lack of respect (any problems I brought up throughout the marriage were dismissed as unimportant and I was told that I just needed to see things the way he did and I'd be fine, so there was no effort on his part at compromising on anything)

I'll stop there. There may very well be more that I just can't think of, but it's all bad. Obviously. If it were good, I wouldn't have walked. It's just that how could I sit down and tell my children, "Hey I left your daddy because he's a liar, he spends all my money, and doesn't want me to have a life of my own, etc."? Of course it wouldn't be said that way, but how can you say all those things without it looking like a huge bitch-fest on my part? A "let me sit you down and tell you exactly what I think of your daddy" chat?

He has problems. I know this. I don't know that he will ever get help for the things he struggles with. But regardless, I do not want to paint him as a bad father. If my children form that opinion of him, on their own, so be it. But I do not want to contribute to that opinion. Let him stand or fall on his own merit, I say.

Anyway, that is just my thinking on it as it stands currently. I am always open to more feedback or other opinions. Thanks again, B&A!

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-01-2014, 03:58 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
(02-01-2014 02:09 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  Sounds like a fairly good handle on things as you make the transition! Thumbsup The biggest thing for kids is routine and predictability to feel safe and secure, and to know their child-to-parent relationships haven't changed even though your parent-to-parent relationship did. Divorce is a type of loss, which means they'll grieve, but it doesn't mean they won't get through this- especially with the awesome understanding from Mom, which you seem to have. Smile

What she said!

I was his age when my parents divorced and I turned out alright! Evil_monster

Onward, my faithful steed!
[Image: ezgif-save_zps4d93a674.gif?t=1395781443]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Crulax's post
02-01-2014, 03:59 PM
RE: Helping youngest child deal with divorce...
I'll give you the perspective from the child.

I was 11 and my parents were separated. I lived with my dad for some time but my mom moved me up to the US to live with her. The relationship wasn't over between them but as they lived in separate countries, my dad found a gf or two to keep him company in my home country. My mom slowly realized that my dad had another relationship, and by the time my dad wanted a divorce, my mom denied it to him and made his life miserable. My dad ended up having a heart attack from the financial stress and poor diet.

My dad had a succesful double bypass heart surgery. Even getting the money for the surgery was stressful for him.

My mom used me as emotional support and confidant. Of course I couldn't hear my dad's side of the story (I was in a different country). My mother also enshrined her criticism of my dad in religious language. It made me not only despise my father but also feel sorry for him.

By the time I was in college and wanted to talk to my dad and help him out financially and emotionally I talked to him and put all the hatred and shame aside to help someone who I loved. I saw him online.

Unfortunately my dad passed away the next Wednesday from a second heart attack.

I wish my mother hadn't used me as her therapist, I would've had more time with my father.

From your OP, it seems you are doing great! I wish you could adopt me, Wink seriously (I'm 26 and have three kids if you don't mind being a grandmother).

I don't recommend going into details as far as the reasons for the split it might polarize the parent-child relationship on one side.

If your child asks very detailed questions you can always measure their level of understanding by bouncing off the question back by asking, why do you think this is so? how does it make you feel?

Whatever you do, have in mind, that you are the parent and the child needs you, you might be tempted to feel the other way around.

Best of luck.

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like djkamilo's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: