When the separation happens when they are babies, what do you tell them later on? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-04-2011, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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I separated when my baby boy was 8 months old, well, my then husband left.

He was absent from our lives for almost a year and when I was preparing papers to file he came back to get joint custody

Currently my now 3 year 5 months old boy has two homes where he spent equal time. 50/50.


He is just three, but my cousin who is a single mom started getting quiestions when her daugther was just 4 about her dad and the fact that he is not in her life.


What do you tell them?

I am guessing for now to tell him there are different types of families (etc etc) and ask him what he thinks about that.

Perhaps ill have to explain that mommy and daddy dont want to be a couple and this is why he has two homes...?


My marriage ended after a lot of abuse, disrespect, neglect and multiple affairs from my now ex.

I filed for divorce because he just wanted things to stay that way.


My parents almost divorced when I was 12 for, unfortunatelly, similar reasons, they worked things out and now they couldnt be happier.

I was never allowed to ask any questions and was told nothing. I feel that if I knew some of that mess, I could have avoid many of the same pitfalls on my own marriage, i wouldnt have been missing so many warning signs, or even I might have been able , just like my parents, to save the family.


I say the above, because I know many think it is better to never tell them what really happened. I think this is part of my son's story, a part I dont want him to go though, so, as age appropiate, maybe as a young adult, I might need to share some of the story, in kindness and love, but hiding everything, to me is not healthy.


Please be compassionate on your responses, we all have a personal path, I want and need to hear your insights.

Thank you so much for reading


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#2 of 7 Old 07-04-2011, 11:24 AM
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Nothing that would help... just a hug and hope that your cousin comes up with something to say.


My parents divorced when I was 21 after "faking" it on my father's part for years. It was a really hard thing to witness, Mum didn't want it and didn't agree but Dad was bailing for his reasons and it was hard for everyone.


I sometimes think some of my own relationship issues come from that. *sigh*

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#3 of 7 Old 07-04-2011, 10:42 PM
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i agree hiding is not a good thing... but then there is an appropriate time to tell the whole story. which does not start at 3 or 4.


your case is different from your cousins.


your son has his father present in his life with whom u share 50/50.


if he asks just say you guys get along better separate than together. 


dd asked me i think when she was around 4. at 2 she didnt ask but wanted daddy and mommy together. going thru some experiences together as a family rather than always separate. 


as dd grows older she herself doesnt need to ask questions. she sees what the reality is coz she has her daddy present in her life. and she is able to see that even though she loves her daddy dearly him and mommy just dont get along. 


i never bad mouth ex. because inspite of the emotional abuse and cheating - ex is an exemplary father. or rather tries to be. and i am happy with that. he tries his best. and he is there for dd. 


dd is almost 9 and sees his struggle. she was really sad at 5 struggling with why her dad was like what he was. i never took sides. i just sat with her in her sadness and empathised with her. as she grows older she sees how different we are - the reason why even our own relationship with dd is so different. ex is still the fun dad and dd loves him equally. but emotionally she and i are close in a way ex can never be unless he is able to change. if ex were to die or disappear tomorrow dd would be devastated, but to a lesser degree than if i died. 


just like the subjects around death and sex, i answered just dd's question. never more - never my opinions. as she grew older she asked more questions here and there. nothing major. 


if there is one advice i'd like to give you - it is - never EVER bad mouth your ex. 

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#4 of 7 Old 07-04-2011, 11:41 PM
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Well DS father and I were never together so this is just normal for him.  Now mr wonderful is no longer in the picture and no father is a new type of normal.  I explain it as everyone has choices to make. I chose not to live with mr wonderful.  When you were 6 mr wonderful made some very bad decisions and no longer is allowed to do anything but what the judge allows him to do.

We know all kinds of families, so it's really not that big of a deal to DS.   If anything he has determination and drive like no other 10 yr old and has some pretty serious goals set.

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#5 of 7 Old 07-16-2011, 10:42 PM
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My daughter is 4 years old and her father is completely absent and has been for 2+ years. DD never lived with him and has no memory of him but is not asking LOTS of questions which is why I am on MDC tonight looking for the right way to answer.

"There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting." - Buddha.
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#6 of 7 Old 07-17-2011, 08:02 AM
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I have found that my answers to questions about a completely absent parent change as the child grows and matures.  My DS's dad has been completely absent from DS's life since DS was 2.5yo.  DS wouldn't recognize him if he tripped over him- unless he happened to notice the fact that they are carbon copies of each other.


When my son was 4yo, I told him that his dad was sick and couldn't be a father at that time.  Hopefully he would get better so that things might be different in the future.  It was good enough for a preschooler although it sometimes got sticky when I would get sick with the flu or something and DS would ask how come I could take of him when I was sick but his dad could not, lol.


During the elementary school years, I was able to expand on how, exactly, his dad was sick.  He knew a little about drug use at that point and was able to understand how that might make a person act or think.


In HS, he knew most of the story about his dad's addictions.  He understood that his dad was an addict and that it mesed his dad's priorities up.  He also understood fully what addiction could do and why someone would not want their children around it.  At that point, his dad had been an addict for all of DS's life and had spent periods of time in jail.


I don't think lying or not talking about what caused a parent to be absenet is the best course but I do believe it has to be addressed gently and with compassion for the child and the other parent.  The other parent is a part of your child for good or bad.  The child internalizes the other parent's flaws whether they know it or not.  I tried to include tidbits about the positive qualities that his dad possessed as well as the flaws.  My DS knows that at one point his dad had some great qualities since I married the guy and had a baby with him.  I wanted to DS to know that he as a child is loved and was born in love.  I also wanted him to know that his genetics included the ability to become an addict and hopefully to avoid that path.

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#7 of 7 Old 07-17-2011, 09:04 AM
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Just be as honest as you can when it happens, according to their age and how much they can retain and understand. It's tough. :(  My kids were 14, 7 and 5 months when their dad said he was leaving for his old girlfriend from 20 years ago. He moved right in with her. Now THEY are having problems and she may be leaving him and they are going to have to endure yet another separation in less than a year of another woman leaving their life. :(  I hate it. I would have just about rather stayed in that h*ll of a life than to have to split our family up and ruin my kids lives.

46-year-old single (divorced), self-employed working, home schooling, mommy to:

19 y-o
12 y-o (private school)
5 y-o (home schooled)
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