How do you tell children that their parents are splitting up and their whole world is about to change? This is the conundrum that drove a worried mum to ask the internet for help.
Reddit user sab_eth needed to break the news of her divorce to her 9-year-old daughter – and didn’t know where to start.
“We’re telling our daughter that we’re splitting up today. Any advice?” she wrote on the Reddit thread.
“She’s 9 and we’ve been together for a little over 10 years. Her dad and I have very little contention, and we’ve been totally chill with each other about splitting up. It really is ironically the best thing we have ever done for our relationship. It’s like this giant bubble of stress has been dissipated.
Now that I found a place and signed a lease, we’re ready to tell her. I’m just here looking for advice on how to ease the destroying of her world. I’ve talked to other children of divorce about their experiences and what their parents did to make them feel like shit/everything will be okay. Tips?
Oh, I’m only moving a few minutes away and we’ve agreed on a pretty ebb and flow custody schedule. She’s not switching schools and I’m actually a little closer to her BFF, so there are a few little things like that that will hopefully lessen the blow.”
Soon the mum was inundated with advice and support. Here’s 5 of the best suggestions:
- “My parents asked me ‘why are you crying?’ don’t do that.”
- “The best thing my parents did when they got divorced is that let me be sad. They didn’t try to make everything ok immediately. Instead, they let me know that it was ok to feel sad right now, but that those feelings would fade and everything would be better eventually. And they never pushed me to feel anything I wasn’t ready to feel. They also had a plan in place and let me know the exact plan as soon as they could. Try to take as much uncertainty as possible out of the equation.
- “My wife and I split about a year ago, and we have a seven year old son … we worked and continue to work on making sure he knows that we both love him, and even though his mom and I are not ‘together’ we’re still very much a family. We make sure we back each other up in any parenting decision, and always present a united front. We also carve out times when the three of us spend time together as a family. Similarly to you guys, splitting up actually improved our relationship and allowed us to be better parents, indeed better people 🙂 Good luck, and ignore the doubters and negative sh*t you’ll get from some people :)”
- “Don’t expect her to take it well. It is her first break up. She is going to have to grieve the end of the relationship. You can help her through the stages but don’t rush her. There is denial, bargaining, anger, sadness,and acceptance. Counseling would give her an outlet. You have your friends and so does your husband…. Most likely her friends don’t have the life experience to help her through this. Having them helps but they are emotionally very young like her. Hopefully you and your husband take your time to move on. Both of you might be ready but there is a third person in the relationship…. So make sure she is ready too. I know my dad waited a few years after divorce before dating. It was nice. He made sure we were ready. We were excited for him because we were ready. Good luck!”
- “It sounds like because you’re amicable, you should be OK here, but I’ll share with you one of the BEST things my husband’s parents did after they divorced. They never once spoke badly of the other in front of him. It wasn’t until he was 32 that his mom finally said some snide remark about his dad. They both went to soccer games, graduations, and big life events for him. Even though his dad most likely cheated on his mom, she still treated him with respect when my husband was around. She never even told her family what he did. If you can’t be kind to one another when she’s not around, that is one thing, but PLEASE show nothing but respect for one another when she is around. This will help her accept it easier as time goes on. This will also alleviate any stress on her that you’re fighting may cause. Just be there for her and still have a united front in raising her.”
After being swamped with advice, the original poster came back with an update: “She took it as well as one might expect (“my life was perfect, “your love for me is an illusion,” etc.). Her dad and I told her how difficult of a decision it was and it wasn’t made on impulse or out of anger. I won’t go into detail, but I think we managed it well. Thanks everyone for advice and stuff! It helped. We’re giving her her space (she’s currently playing Sims and singing Adele, so I think that’s good?). The next week is going to be difficult, but I’m glad we told her sooner than we had originally planned. Thanks again. :)”