How to explain split is permanent but not child’s fault?

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  • #57512 Report

    I needaliein

    I split up with my ex 2 years ago when my daughter was 5. I explained what was happening  to her at the time in as neutral a way as possible- we moved out and started again. Her relationship with her Dad is up and down- there have been some very rough patches in the last few years where he has behaved appallingly, but she doesn’t remember a lot of them thankfully.

    Recently it’s come out that she thinks it’s her fault her Dad & I split up and that it is her to get us back together- she has taken to giving me makeovers so Daddy will like me again and want to marry me (!)

    There is no way I can explain the actual reasons why we aren’t together, or would want to burden her with them- in short he didnt love me and spent an amount of time making my life a daily hell because he didnt want me around any more…

    How can I explain  to now 7yr old that the split is for good in as kinder way as possible?

    The most neutral response I’ve been able to think of is that ‘we get on better if we dont live together’ but lately this is not standing up to her scrutiny.

    I would like to protect her from as much pain as possible, but she does need to understand the split is for good….

    Any ideas of how best to tackle please?





    #57534 Report

    Andrew uk

    I don’t know. I haven’t had any real contact with my kids since they moved out so haven’t been able to explain it to my son 9 and daughter 4. There are plenty of books for kids on the market that deal with divorce etc. Off the top of my head, sometimes grown-ups fall out just like kids. Sometimes it’s for the best. Do you have family members who have split? You could use them as an example to prove it’s not just you. You could emphasis the positives – 2 houses, 2 lots of presents at Christmas and birthdays, 2 lots of love not shared with anyone else.

    #57544 Report



    I’ve had similar issues with my kids questioning our family set up, found a trip to the zoo & more inclusive TV/film/books/activities can help the kids see that it’s all natural & nothing wrong with them or any set up a any family has.

    I try to explain it to my kids as; some kids have no parents & are raised by grandparents/ wider family, some are in fostercare, some are in single parent families, some have two mums or two dad’s or step parents… + across nature it can be the same too. All these kids & baby animals can be just as happy and do just as well as eachother.

    Maybe try getting to the route of where these feeling are coming from? – has maybe a friend at school said something or they don’t have enough inclusive book or film/ too much old school Disney?

    It could be worth looking up any figures in genres your kid loves for who might of been raised in a single parent family. There is always at least one! Can help normalise nothing is wrong with our set up & it doesn’t mean any child can’t go on to have a great life or do amazing things 🙂

    As for how to explain why your not together individually…. Idk it’s such a personal choice for ever circumstance.

    Personally, I don’t see the harm in being honest with kids, especially if it stops them blaming themselves,or stops them accepting bad behaviour towards themselves. It doesn’t have to be a mudslinging match, but a simple ‘we just didn’t get along & it’s not healthy to be in a relationship like that’ can be alright!

    If dad falls out the picture or is difficult again, I think it’s alright to say it’s not acceptable, it’s his issue & choice to behave like that or get help to fix it. It’s healthy to give chances for people to learn, but it’s healthy  not put up with this too!

    Love & strength to you both

    #57547 Report

    I needaliein

    Thank you both for your helpful responses.

    Sorry you haven’t had the chance to explain the situation Andrew.

    Zoo idea is a great one JBLA and do – able locally. I have tried the  ‘lots of different types of families’ chat, but at the moment that just isn’t her experience…her school is small & in a rural village and is not that diverse on any front unfortunately.  When she goes 2 secondary hopefully that will change for the better. She does love old school Disney and classic fairytale type books too, but do my best 2 get in some more modern stuff. I will look out for books with more different types families- any recommendations?

    I’m not sure where this has resurfaced from, it’s a bit odd after 2 years so maybe she has had negative comments from school friends or tactless family members-.I will try and find out.

    Many thanks for your thoughts 🙂

    #57551 Report


    You are most welcome!

    lovely to read you are in a rural village & making it work, from city life… yours sounds idyllic! <3 i guess diversity is the trade-off, but you are right, this will come with secondary & collage/ uni 🙂

    I like the zoo bc usually there’s animals that don’t really get along too, maybe bickering or some species that need to be separated around baby animals.  can imagine when the kids reach their teens i’ll prob get an earful for making daft comparisons, but for the moment knowing its alright & natural to have different set ups will do! can be worth pointing out the human’s too & asking if we can tell if anyone is from a single parent household unless asked. my kids realised nobody would really notice for us either.

    single mum/ parent stuff;

    books;  lama lama – Anna Dewdney, apple blossom the possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan, no matter what – Debi Gilori. – i can root around for some more for 7yr old reading age… my youngest just turned 7, so probably need to update myself! these are all mostly awesome picture books! seems an endless amount for my eldest, bit more difficult for younger readers.

    Tv programmes; ‘She-Ra’- has buckets of inclusivity & kick ass warrior princesses! our favourite! ….. haven’t watched it but apparently Tracey Beaker on cbbc is a single mum now!  lama lama the tv shows rock (based on the books)! inclusivity in programmes like Arther – buster the bunny, a few characters in Phineas and Ferb, prob lots i’m forgetting!

    films; Karate kid, Andy in toy story, Tiana in princess & the frog, Aristocats, Lion king, Erin Brockovich, princess diaries, beauty shop, spanglish, the single moms club, Up!, Onward, the lorax… probs lots am forgetting here too!

    interesting note on the disney stuff…; so it turns out that 43% of disney films have a deceased mother, and a further 20% of mums go on to pass away in the film… most of these characters go on to have no parents or most often a saviour dad & evil step-mum figure. despite single mums on adv. making up the majority of single households… It seems a lot of these narratives stemmed from chaucer’esque type misogynistic stories to prepare kids for high mortality rates in childbirth & the supposed ‘womans place’… possibly further perpetuated by Walt himself after his own mother passed away from a gas leak in a house he bought. whatever it is…. i hope single mums characters get more positive & healthy representations in the scripts!! feels overdue!

    #57565 Report

    I needaliein

    Living in a rural area is a double edged sword for.sure, can be lovely in the summer & good fun while kids are young. ..

    (decent non seasonal) Jobs can be hard to come  by and winter can be a bit bleak & isolated- esp. the last Winter Lockdown. I suspect she will enjoy it less if we’re still here for teenage years…it can be limiting depending what she’s into by then.

    Thank you for all those great recommendations-we do live a bit of She Ra, new & original, will try put some of the other ideas and see if that helps. Yes Disney can be a mixed blessing for sure- some slightly odd stuff goin on…tho saying that we’re reading James & the Giant Peach atm, parents wiped out by Rhino, extended family by stray massive fruit-child raised by insects! 🤣

    Don’t know if part of the wanting the ex & I to get married is so she can be a bridesmaid and swish about in a fancy frock(!) Will try and jam some extra dressing up in2 holidays and see if thay takes the edge off 🙂

    Thanks again x

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