Join Date: May 2008
| | Re: How to tell the kids?
Take them out. Tell them the truth - the whole truth, about your reasons for leaving. It doesn't need to take the form of "your mother is a cheating w.h.o.r.e"
Again, the truth is fine. "Any healthy relationship requires love and respect. Your mother and I no longer have that. Your mother is engaged in behavior that I have repeatedly asked her to refrain from, and will no longer tolerate."
Your kids are much older than mine - which is why I think they need, and deserve more information. If you don't tell them the truth, you will be painted with a brush and colors chosen by your cheating spouse.
Below is a copy paste from a much older thread where I addressed this question:
What I have to say is based on having lived through this discussion as a teenager, and then having it as an adult with my own young children, ages 6 and 3 at the time.
My parents divorce was a train-wreck. When they pulled us together for 'the talk', they used the standard opener with me and my two younger siblings;
"You kids didn't do anything wrong, this isn't your fault. This is between mom and dad."
Don't use this line. By highlighting what your kids didn't do, and what isn't their fault, they will start thinking about what they did do, and what is their fault, despite the warning.
Both of my parents became very emotional. It created tremendous uncertainty, instability and an overwhelming sense of tragedy. It cascaded into an avalanche of pain and confusion. I will never in my life forget my brother pleading with my parents, sobbing and saying "I'll behave. I'll be good." My parents cried more as a result - so the kids cried more. Seeing my brother and sister in that much pain, broke me too.
Don't. If you cannot have the talk without becoming emotional in responding to the kids or your spouse... then don't have the talk. Here is my perspective, you get to form your own. I had a 'no tears policy' when it came to telling the children.
Children are mirrors. Their feelings will often reflect what they see and sense. As adults, yes, we know that the death of a marriage is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. You do not, and should not, need to reflect that fact when telling your children. There is no upside to making sure that they understand and feel in no uncertain terms that the bottom just fell out of their world.
They are not nearly as interested in feelings as they are in behavior. To younger children, behavior reflects feelings. Mom and dad represent safety, security, and stability. If mom and dad get swept up in guilt, sadness, remorse, or other powerful emotions - you are going to sweep up your kids in the riptide, and in my view, you are being irresponsible. You need to reflect strength and stability.
It's ok if they do not understand. It's ok if they are sad. Validate those feelings. But if they see you emulating calm, strength and control, they will still believe that mom and dad will hold together the fabric of their world. And as parents, you had damn well better.
The kids neither need, nor want details. They don't need to know why. They don't need to know about whose fault it is, who has an addiction, or who is screwing someone else. This is specifically geared towards younger kids. Teens and young adults are a different story. If they ask the hard questions, you need to answer them honestly without coloring the response with your own bias. You can have that talk later.
Be short and to the point. Don't ramble.
"Sometimes mommies and daddies decide that they work best when they each have their own house. So do you know what? You guys are now going to have two houses. So now you will have two bedrooms! One at mommies house, and one at daddy's house. And sometimes you will have sleepovers at mommies house and other times you will have sleepovers at daddy's house. Mom will put on the calendar when we get to have sleepovers at daddy's. And we will get to do fun things, and best of all, we will still have our family."
The above is pretty much verbatim what I said. I said it with wide eyes and a smile, almost making it sound exciting. The reality of the circumstances were going to be the same whether I delivered the message sobbing or with a smile. Want to take a wild guess how they reacted?
My son asked, "but you will still sleep here too?"
My response, "Nope, daddy will sleep and wake up at his own house. But it will be just like when you wake up in the morning and daddy has gone to work."
I did most of the talking. And much to her credit, my spouse held back tears, and when she spoke it was to repeat, and reassure the kids of something I had just said.
I strove to put things in a context that they were already familiar with. I continued to come to the house two nights a week to help with bedtime and read stories. As time passed, we weened away from that practice.
My spouse and I treat parenting like a business, or a job. Regardless of whether or not you get along with everyone in your workplace, you still have to work together to do the job right. I recognize that not all dissolutions are going to be free of acrimony or pain, but I firmly believe that how loved or secure your children feel has little to do with where each parent resides. It is much more about how each parent makes them feel, and responds to their feelings.
You can absolutely convince your children that your divorce, and their lives are about to become a nightmare - or just as easily convince them that they don't need to be frightened and you will take care of them. Just as you always have.
But I agree with 'keep it simple and brief'. Your