when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

19 posts
pompom
Options:
Share this post on:

when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby pompom » Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:56 am

After a long and soul searching journey my husband and I have decided that we will separate in the New Year. We want to try and keep the whole thing amicable for the sake of our two children, they are 7 and 9 and protect them as much as we can.

One of the things we don't agree on however is when to tell them. I want to wait until after the holidays so that they have school as a distraction once we've told them. My husband wants to tell them now as he thinks that we will be around to help them deal with the news over Xmas.

If anyone has any wise words or is happy (not really the right word in this text) to share how they dealt with a similar situation I would be very grateful.
Post Reply
coldatchristmas
Posts: 327
Joined: Jan 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby coldatchristmas » Fri Dec 11, 2020 11:33 am

i am so sorry to read about your situation.
I have no qualifications in this area at all but I would be absolutely go with telling them after Xmas. If you are all going to be together I imagine it will be very confusing for them if you tell them before and are then all together. I hope that you find a way through.
Post Reply
Bunnypigeon120
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Bunnypigeon120 » Fri Dec 11, 2020 1:29 pm

Definitely definitely after the holidays. It will be very confusing for them to be told and then you all try and have a happy holiday together. It will be difficult either way though - I would start to lay the groundwork during the holiday. Start talking about how some families operate differently, how not all families are together at Christmas, etc etc. When my parents told me it was still awful (I can’t sugar coat it, I’m sorry) but we had an inclination that it was coming and so it wasn’t a massive shock, which helped. It also helped that I had friends who had divorced parents so the concept was not entirely alien. There are good movies that deal with the subject - Mrs doubtfire for one.
It will be tough, unfortunately there is no way around that, but it will get better and easier with time. Good luck to you.
Post Reply
SW11er
Posts: 99
Joined: Oct 2015
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby SW11er » Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:12 pm

Tell them now - so (hopefully) they can see you can act amicable despite the separation. Otherwise they have a nice Christmas, learn you are separating and then worry how it will work out.

I am no expert though. I would just always tell the truth at the earliest opportunity.
Post Reply
AbbevilleMummy
Posts: 842
Joined: Jun 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby AbbevilleMummy » Sun Dec 13, 2020 12:53 am

From my personal experience, I would definitely advise after Christmas.

My parents told us over Christmas (I was 15, my brother was 11). It destroyed that Christmas and every other Christmas since. We both still hate Christmas now, 30 years later, as we associate it with such an unhappy, traumatic time.
Post Reply
Nanny2020ldn
Posts: 64
Joined: Nov 2019
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Nanny2020ldn » Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:47 pm

After christmas

Emorion coaching , worry dolls and lots,of talking :)

Children are quiet resilient when their basic needs etc are met

Spin the positive - 2 homes etc
Post Reply
smiley
Posts: 41
Joined: Jun 2009
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby smiley » Mon Dec 14, 2020 5:57 am

Hello
14 years ago I was in the same situation. My ex husband moved out on New Year’s Day and we told the children (4 aged between 6 and 11) that day. We had spent Christmas together and even had a short break before the new year.
It seemed to work best for us to keep all events separate to avoid any association of divorce with Christmas or other occasions.
I know that all my children still enjoy Christmas.
Post Reply
Trinnydors
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Trinnydors » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:03 am

Sorry to hear you are going through this.

Please don’t tell them over Christmas. My parents told us this on Christmas day when I was 11. Ruined Christmas forever for us. I still can’t forgive them for it.

School will be a welcome distraction for them in the New Year. It will make it easier to process rather than be trapped in the house with you both, feeling awkward. The more considered and planned the break up is the better your kids will take it. You might have a better idea in Jan of what the break up means, how you’ll divide their time and who will live where which will be much more reassuring than an distressing and abstract concept that they can’t get their heads around.
Post Reply
Poppy M
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Poppy M » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:25 am

Definitely after Christmas. Otherwise their Christmas memories will always be of you divorcing....

I would suggest you get some proper advice on how to do it. From a child psychologist. As a teacher I would recommend ....like Nanny below....

It’s a life changing moment you can’t just jump into it.
Politely remind the other half… How you guys do it could define children’s values on family life et cetera.

Done right children can be very resilient. I wish you both every happiness in the future as well as your children
Post Reply
Onlyboys2
Posts: 10
Joined: Mar 2017
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Onlyboys2 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:37 am

Firstly I’m sorry you are going through this, my husband and I split 18m ago and are still working out the divorce but I believe we’ve done a pretty good job of putting the children first as much as they can possibly understand (5 and 6).

I hear what others are saying about not ‘ruining’ Christmas but can you get through this time pretending everything is wonderful? It’s hard enough sometimes and this year is surely less easy than most. If the house will be tense at all then you tell them afterwards, Christmas wasn’t real anyway... Only you know how you may both cope and how your children usually react to trauma, whether they are worriers and likely to be very emotional.

School is a good distraction for them and a constant whilst home life may feel up in the air but I do think telling them while you have time together is hugely helpful. There may be a lot of questions and they will need reassuring and to see that you are not changing or leaving them. It’s only my opinion but I would suggest you tell them after Christmas with enough time before school starts as long as you are both committed to Christmas.

We told my children in the middle of a two week summer holiday that we had still gone on. Whilst they were younger than yours I think it helped that we were together for a time afterwards to comfort them and answer questions. We already knew though where my ex was living and helped them to visualise the two homes they would have.

It’s so hard but only you know your children and what they might need from you. Good luck with everything and look after yourself too x
Post Reply
Asaguest
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Asaguest » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:09 am

I am so sorry you are in that situation. I am at the other side of a very amicable separation and divorce. There is no good time to tell them, but when the time came (my kids were then 9 and 4) it didn’t go as we had planned and the eldest guest on the school run with her Dad. In hindsight, it was great as she had a day of school to think about it away from us and develop her questions for after school (with a big milkshake in a cafe). The school were amazing and the conversation with her teacher was the hardest if all. I remember her saying she would make the classroom a safe space for her (eldest) to express her feelings and the classroom assistant took her out for some reading and so forth. Her school friends were also very kind and supportive. There’s no good time, and having a Christmas together where you cherish the friendship and family ties (that you will always have) with their dad might help to create your pattern for the future. The best advice I had at the time was to be kind and generous to each other and see your separation agreement as a way of gifting things to each other. Good luck. X
Post Reply
ClaphamPkorNot?!
Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2019
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby ClaphamPkorNot?! » Mon Dec 14, 2020 9:48 am

As others have said, I'm sorry this is where things have got to for you both.

I'm lucky enough to have a twice divorced mother.  I was under 1 when she left my dad and in my early twenties when she and my step-dad decided to separate. My younger (1/2) sisters were mid-teens.  I firmly believe that parents that don't get on are better parenting apart.  Time with both /all my parents is better than it was when they were together, even when they're now in the same room.  

My mum and step-dad made the decision to tell us around about now pre-Xmas and then to have a great family Xmas together.  It wasn't really a surprise.  They intended it to be about how we spent the time together as a family, even though they'd decided not to be together.  It set the tone for how things were going to be from then on, and as there was focus, was actually a really great time.  They carried on having joint Xmas with us for a couple of years until they both met other people and things moved on.  It worked, and the relief of spending time with them when they had a load off their minds was great.  It's unlikely your kids haven't noticed what's going on at home.  

My wife's parents separated in September when she was around 22.  They occasionally get together in bigger family Xmas and for other things.  They just seem to exist in each other's space rather than making much effort; it's amicable but void.  My wife hates Christmas because she has to make choices about which parent to be with (and still wants the perfect family Christmas that's never going to happen) and it's nothing to do with when she was told they were separating but more to do with the fact they didn't make any effort about how they would be with each other when they separated, perhaps because my wife and sister-in-law were older.  

This year might be difficult, next year may also, and in time you'll all set the pattern for how things get on. 
My kids have 9 people they refer to as some form of grandparent.  It's complicated, but they know they're loved by all.  That's the bit to focus on. 

Your kids might find Christmas uncomfortable in the future, but it's more likely that it's because it will cause them to have to make choices they're powerless to do anything about and they might look at what friends are doing and wish it was what they were going to have.  They're not, but ability for you both to be comfortable in each other's space has to be paramount.  You're about to have 1-2 weeks to show them how it could be and it will set the tone for the future.  I'd also recommend an alcohol-free Christmas to ensure things are less likely to be said that might be regretted later.    


Bottom line, don't use Xmas as an excuse, be honest and show them how it's going to be from now on and how you'll both be there for your kids, together and apart and make it about them not you.
 
Post Reply
greybird
Posts: 34
Joined: Nov 2010
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby greybird » Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:32 am

Hello. I am so very sorry that your family are in this situation, it is not nice whatever time of the year.
Like Trinnydors and AbbevilleMummy, my sister and I were told on Christmas Day (I was 13, she 10). It answered a lot of questions, but left us on eggshells. Especially as we were under strict instructions not to tell anyone. I am not particularly sentimental about Christmas per se, but memories of always trying to please everyone hang heavy.
You don’t say what the current atmosphere between you and your husband is like - children aren’t stupid, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it. Unless you genuinely believe that they would sigh in great relief (in which case, the sooner the better) then please wait until the new year.
As other posters have said, going back to school will be somewhat of a distraction. Can you then involve any grandparents, aunts/uncles to give them freedom to vent?
I wish you all patience and love x
Post Reply
Emma Heart
Posts: 8
Joined: Jul 2017
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby Emma Heart » Mon Dec 14, 2020 2:02 pm

Hi,

I am in a similar situation, but with smaller children and a long way to a resolution. You are right to think after Christmas, he is also right to want to let them know as soon as possible.

I would tell them now that you are not getting on as well as before and you are trying to find ways to make it good for everyone. You may surprised with how the kids will respond to that. When we trust then, we see they are very sharp, well tuned and a lot of the time ahead of us.

Make Christmas count more than the break up and you could start by you and your husband meeting in the middle on telling them the truth now (you’re not getting on) and presenting the harsh practicalities after the New Year. In the meantime, try to take care of your own and the other one’s feelings and comfort, (more than ever) in a way that can be mutually rewarding. If you manage, the kids will most likely be ok as well.

And maybe make a truly happy Christmas happen! More often than not, finding your own reality is really hard and trusting it, even harder, so you and your husband must be pretty special people!

With the hope that my reflection on your quest will flutter by and bring at least a smile if not some kind of support to any decision you’ll make!

XxFlorica
Post Reply
pompom
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: when is the best time to tell the children we are splitting up?

Postby pompom » Mon Dec 14, 2020 3:09 pm

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful and helpful replies.
Although I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone it is a relief to hear that many of you have successfully come through similar situations. We are still very unsure of the best route to take but I can't tell you how grateful I am to have your replies.
Post Reply