Discussion with son re parents living apart
25 February 2019 at 2:16 pm #21420
I’d like to get some advice about providing my 5yr old son with some positive context around why his mother and I are separated. We actually separated 2 and half years ago but all the advice i’ve found is around the initial conversation you might have as parents who are currently getting divorced. However, being 3 at the time this was dealt with in a very simplified ‘mummy and daddy are going to have separate houses for you to stay in’ kind of way, which was enough for him at that age. Now he is 5 he is much more curious and is asking questions as to why we aren’t together.
The complication is that his mother and I disagree on the narrative surrounding the divorce. Without boring you with the detail, the 2 year lead up to the split was a very difficult time for us both as a couple, and culminated in failed marriage therapy and an acknowledgement from us both that we were unable to carry on. As soon as it did end however my ex wife claimed I had instigated everything and it was she who was still wanting to try at the relationship etc etc. This was the story that was sold to friends and family (anyone who would listen in fact), but I have largely kept my silence thus far.
However now that he is asking questions I strongly suspect (based on comments to him in the past) that she would like to paint me as the villain if she could, but I feel this is completely inappropriate and I can no longer hold my silence when it comes to my son. Firstly because it is untrue, and more importantly I think this will be detrimental to expose him to her resentment.
He asked me out of the blue the other day why we weren’t together and I framed it that we had wanted and planned to stay together, but that sometimes people don’t make each other happy anymore so in order to be happy and be the best parents we had to live apart. He’s a very thoughtful, emotionally aware and curious little boy, and I want to be able to talk to him about this openly. Obviously his mum will have to be part of that as well and I am preparing to meet with her to discuss and agree on a strategy for talking to him.
Has anyone had any experience in this that they can share? Any advice/best practice anyone can give will be hugely appreciated.
Thank you!25 February 2019 at 6:41 pm #21422
Yes definitely had this experience. No matter how tempting or true, never villify the other parent (the child will figure out in their own mind what’s what). Focus on making sure you are a good parent and your child is loved…and they you know regardless of how the ex partner feels about you that they love your child. At that age they need that reassurance at least when they are still in contact with botg parents. Also even from a 5yr old’s perspective they see “who started it”. Regardless of any argument that occurs in front of your child, don’t raise your voiceand try to be calm regardless of how your partner is, and if it does kick off end it quickly. Sometimes this means a big hug to your kid then saying you need to go leave, as long as you are focusing your love on them and demonstrating that, this is what they will remember, in contrast to an angry person who is shouting… they pick up on every little thing but especially body language and sounds.. how things are said even more than what’s been said.
That’s been my experience at least.26 February 2019 at 8:56 am #21434
welshdad – thanks for replying and I appreciate you sharing your experience with me.
What you’re describing is exactly my intention, and thankfully we’ve largely managed to avoid any confrontation in front of him. The main focus for me now is to reach an agreement with her on how we explain to him why we don’t live together etc, as that message needs to be consistent. I’m hoping I can convince her to see things my way and let go of her personal anger.26 February 2019 at 8:12 pm #21562
I’d have to say weather male or female… never try to convince a partner you have seperated with to see things from your point of view, you will always be disappointed. Try to lead by example instead…in time they see that how they are is not helping your child and you get a better response so they will pipe down and eventually try to better you at it. This is not a bad thing as it’s your child who benefits. It’s not a competition, and the less agression your kid sees or heard the better.