What do you tell the kids?

DaveNPJanuary 31, 2005

My soon to be ex-wife and I have/had been married nine years. We have two wonderful children, 7 & 1 and *we* were expecting a third child...

Ofcourse, I would have preferred to hear first from my (ex)wife that the baby wasn't mine but I guess her gynecologist was better suited to tell me that.

The question that I've spent... gosh, almost all weekend and today wondering is... What do I tell my children?

Kids are with me and with me they will stay. I guess I'm lucky in that she's fickel enough to care more about the $$$, house and cars than the kids. That's fine, I prefer it that way.

For those who have had the wonderful joy of telling your kids why a parent will no longer be around... Care to share this with me? As a Family Practitioner I've told people every sort of bad news under the sun. But when it comes to telling my little girl why mommy won't be living with us anymore; I have no earthly idea where to begin.



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What a horrible situation!

Considering the age of the children, I believe that a "white lie" is in order. You can clarify what really happened as your children are old enough to handle it and as it's warranted.

Perhaps saying something to the effect of "Mommy has some grown up things/problems she needs to work on so she is going to be staying at ______ for awhile. She loves you very much and didn't want you to worry about her so we decided that it would be best if you and your little brother/sister stay here with me at our house."

Be sure to emphasize that mommy going away has NOTHING to do with the children. That it's a grown up problem and can only be worked on by grown ups.

My sypmpathies-


    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 11:12AM
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Good Lordie Dave, I am stunned to read this. I've gotten to know you a bit by reading your posts around the home buying and selling forum. I am STUNNED to hear this, I hardly know what to say. As I was reading your post I thought, oh this just can't be true. I think Keli gave some great advice, I am just here to say how sorry I am to read this. May you have a source of strength through what is about to be a very trying time. My heart goes out to you and your children.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 11:53PM
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I'm with Pashan, how truly miserable.

My parents divorced when I was about 12 or so. It didn't affect me much, but my little brother was totally gobsmacked. He had heard from friends that people only divorced because "daddy was beating mommy" and so he thought my parents had been physically fighting. He was a bit better about it when it was explained that they just needed some time apart (and so they did, my parents re-married a couple of years later).

Your situation is obviously different, but points out that your seven-year-old may have ideas of why parents split up that might be frightening to her, and she may be upset by them. The truth is probably outside of a seven-year-old's comprehension, but it may not stop her from imagining other frightening scenarios.

Keli has very good advice, I think, especially about ensuring your kids know it has nothing to do with them. I'd make sure your older daughter is OK with the "white lie," though, as seven-year-olds are smart and pick up on a lot of stuff. Your's sounds like a small town, too, and it may be impossible for her to not here the sordid truth from taunting playmates, eventually, or overhear adults gossiping, so make sure you're also ready to deal with that, too.

How crummy. Life is certainly an adventure, isn't it?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 1:34AM
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Well folks...
Really, *I* don't know what to say. So many people I've never met before (but gotten to know online) have been more caring and considerate than would have ever imagined. And they say the internet is a horrible evil place...

A close friend of mine is staying with us right now. Having him here is helping a LOT not just personally but in terms of keeping the routine going. The baby doesn't have a clue but he *knows* something isn't right. Working on getting him distracted from that notion.

Last night my daughter and I had a long discussion. Sooo glad she is the older because she's stuck true to the tradition of being "daddys' girl". Really felt like in as small a town as it is her not knowing a good deal of the truth would put her in a position of having to defend what she was *told*. Additionally, she already knew of the new baby and while not in the least pleased at the thought of getting ANOTHER little brother, did need to know not that was no longer going to happen. Though retired now, my mother previously practiced as a pediatric psychiatrist, so Grandma will certainly come in handy over the years.

Basically... in a nut shell I just told my daughter that we love mommy and we always will and she will always love us. Mommy just isn't going to be staying with us anymore. Told her that the three of us are still a family and nothing there will EVER change and that both mommy and daddy still love her very much.
I explained that the baby was part of someone elses family and that now mommy was going to be part of that family too. The prospect of her NOT getting another brother seems to have gone over astoundingly well! Thought for a minute I'd have to restrain her :)

For what I had built it up to be, my child was far smarter and more accepting. Certainly expect her to have lots more questions and issues with things but based on how things went initially, it cannot be nearly as bad as I had made it out to be.

For everyone... I appericate you thoughts, prayers and concerns more than you'll ever know. All I can say is we're moving on. The now to be ex-wife wants a speedy divorce and I'll be more than happy to grant that request. The sooner this is legally over and done with, the better. As for being over and done with, it totally is. Today is brand new day and I can either be bitter (and assist my friend Angela in finding a town which allows public hanging of spouses for adultry... : rolls eyes :) or I move on and take care of the people who are REALLY important.

Will be taking some time of work (Angela, do REALLY appericate you seeing all my patients!) and am going to spend some quality time with the people I love and who I KNOW love me. Plan to let the ex-wife have this pile of bricks which I so detest (which she is soo going to sell) and find a place that we can all call home.

So... today begins a new chapter in the book. Let's all smile (and lets try to make it look like we mean it crew!) Things really aren't as bad as they seem and they sure as hell could be a lot worse.

And... if well... that didn't sway you, there is Effexor XR and Valium in the medicine cabinet :)

Be Well & Be Happy...
Life's too short for psycho-spouses.

Dave, who really IS smiling!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:40AM
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I'm so sorry to hear this. Just remember there will be ups and downs any everything in between. You think you're doing really well and then you think of something and it's like a punch in the stomach. Hang tough for the kids. I was so glad to hear that you said, "we love mommy and we always will." It's so important that you not bad mouth mommy - EVER - in front of the kids. My husband cheated on me with my best friend when my son was two years old. We divorced and the ex married my ex-friend. My son is now 17 and his dad and step-mom are still together. No one has every spoken about the cheating - we just said that we didn't belong together anymore and my son has a wonderful relationship with his dad and stepmom and I wouldn't have it any other way. Time heals all wounds I guess and I actually have a pretty cordial relationship with the ex's. I think if my son every knew the truth it would really hurt his relationship with them. A child can't have enough love and happiness in their lives.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 9:38AM
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You are a better person that me. I don't think I could handle that.

You may not want to hear this (and from the sounds of it your daughter doesn't either), but your children ARE going to have a little (half) brother. Your daughter may be in for a rude awakening when she visits her mom and has to deal with a needy newborn (it may actually be worse than if the baby was with her all the time because she is not going to want to share her limited time with her mom). Just based on my observations, but it seems the more children think of the half siblings as a brother or sister, the better the kids seem to get along and the easier the transition between houses seems to be. Just my 2 cents.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:21PM
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That had not even occured to me.


That's going to be a whole new chapter in the book.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:30PM
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Wow! I was just merrily reading along about the big new house and the "problems" that entailed, and BAM!! I see the link to this new post.

God bless you as you deal with this. I am so sorry for you. I am married to a doctor and I know all of the stresses that the medical profession can bring to a marriage, but frankly it is usually the other way around, i.e. the husband finds someone new.

No one deserves what you are going through. What a crummy way to put everything in perspective.

Take care.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 11:40PM
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Sooo....I am bored....just cruisin' the forums....looking for a little fluff.....and I come across this!
I am soooo sorry....and I wonder how any woman....wife....mother could do such a thing....beyond my comprehension.
I do however know another woman....co-incidentally also a Dr.s wife....a surgeon, who was carrying on multiple affairs, and he only found out when one of the jelous lovers called him and told.
That was about 10 years ago.....he is remarried, has his kids ( but 2 are in college) and 2 more. His kids are doing vry well. He is a wise caring, moral man....and that had a lot to do with their healthy outlook.
Take care.....it will get better......it can't get much worse than things are at the moment.
As for what to tell the kids?...As much of the truth as they can handle ( well the 7 year old anyhow....what the toddler knows will come from the 7 year old...like it or not).
Tell her that Mommy and Dady are getting a divorce ( she will hear that at school any way) because of some grown up problems....and that means they will live in separate houses but we will still be your mommy and daddy.
Then answer questions....
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 11:42PM
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Dave, I just want to take a few minutes on this sunday afternoon and just encourage you as you walk through this. Just take one day at a time right now and do the best you can with your beautiful children. when your friends offer to help, let them, as when you let people in to share your pain and sorrows as well as your joys, you will build deep and lasting friendships, instead of surface relationships. Try and choose friends that are sincere, grounded and real and that will help you and your children as you walk through this.

I do not know if you have any single siblings, but a friend of ours whose wife died suddenly, had a single sister who moved in with him to help him and his children for awhile. She truly has been a lifesaver for all of them during this hard, hard time. She was able to be the extra set of hands for these hurting children, and to keep the household running from laundry, to cooking to helping where she was needed.

i wish you and your children the best in years to come. take care.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 4:22PM
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so much for my lurking...

think the advice is right on track- divorce isn't the huge social stigma it was when we were kids, that's for sure- it's actually pretty much the trendy thing to do, like trading in a car.

so it's more about tailoring it to fit the child...and it sounds like your 7 year old's rather more mature than your ex, and may know more about the situation than you do (not all people have the sense to hide messes from their children as well as their spouses)

make me one promise, though?

chances are that within the next 5 years, the bim's going to have cause to regret her choices (face it-liars make bad spouses in the long run)

don't so much as hand her a tissue. no shoulder to cry on, no sanctuary.

as a dame who's had to have some hard talks with people I love over the years- a woman who lets her doctor make THAT announcement's got worse than adultery on the books.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:46PM
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Wow. Sorry to hear about your situation.

A few months ago my SIL moved out because my stepbrother admitted having an affair. Since then he was been wracked with guilt and did everything in his power to change things, as well as take care of his kids (who spent a lot of time with him). Sometimes when you can see what's going on on the other side of the fence (in our case, the cheater's side) (although I'm not suggesting your wife is remorseful) it changes your perspective....I mean, yeah, taking it at face value - he cheated on his wife. But we saw the major depression he went through everyday, the weight loss, the crying jags, the guilt, etc. etc. and he knew, as well as stated out loud, how much pain he had caused his family. We also all knew he was trying to fill a need that was lacking in their relationship, and while it doesn't erase what happened, we realize there were some already deep-seated problems that needed to be worked out.

Anyway, I guess my point is this: because SIL left the house, the kids saw HER as the enemy. They dreaded going to visit her, and wanted to spend all their time with dad. This doesn't say much for the mom when she leaves. I know some divorce courts take this into consideration for custody hearings when the mother leaves the house. IMO, no matter the situation, I can't respect a woman who leaves her children - unless she needs therapy or rehab and realizes her environment is unstable for them to live in - but not just because she wants the $$$. That is pathetic. But you're probably a better dad than she ever was a mother.

That baby will probably be a new source of anguish not only for you but for your children. They will see it as taking up all of mommy's time and probably be resentful because she left them and yet has another baby in her house "who she likes better." I wouldn't be surprised if this comes up. I'm sure your children will learn if they haven't already to formulate their own opinions without much contribution from you. They're very receptive, intuitive little boogers, who understand more than you think!

In any case, good luck. I think you have a good support system and know where to find good help, being in the medical profession. Keep us posted.

PS Oh, I forgot to mention that SB and SIL recently attempted to work things out and got back together. So we'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 10:22AM
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Dr Dave, I think if you are so totally flumoxed about telling your children something that will be an ongoing issue for them - not a one time tell them thing - seek professional help dont just go to a home and garden forum. The devastating thing about divorce for children isn't so much the loss of a parent living in the house but the loss of BOTH temporarily (emotionally) to the grieving process and then later when they have to shuttle back and forth they report a feeling of rootlessness. Sorry if this sounds blunt.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 4:05PM
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having had a child ( daughter, now 13 )that came into the world after the divorce , the best thing i have found is too be there for him/her as they grow and to be honest, because in the long run the truth about all matters concerning the divorce will come to the surface .
thats my 2 cents worth ,

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 7:28PM
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Dave, since you are in the medical profession and understand the importance of professional medical help when someone is in a medical crisis, I believe it would benefit your beautiful children if you sought the help of a child psychologist on how to go through this with your children in the healthiest possible way, so that they have the gift to grow up as healthy as possible emotionally. This is a huge blow to your children, perhaps more so since it is their mother. On top of it all, she will have this new baby that will be with her full time, which will bring up even more complicated issues in the fragile emotions of your beautiful children. And it would help if your wife also sought council, so that you are both on the same page in protecting these kids emotionally, and on what and how they are told. I wish better for you. I know you are hurting and I am sorry this happened to your family. I do not know if I agree with chinacat's last four sentences. Each family is different. Some are able to get past an affair and the betrayal ( with ALOT of work, getting to the core issues/truth of why she did this in the first place) and rebuild their marriage and family. Others cannot. It depends so much on the people involved, I suppose, and whether both parties are committed and willing. I wish the best for you and your children as you travel through these difficult times.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 9:52PM
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