How to Support Your Children When Your Separation is Not Amicable

When my ex husband and I separated – it was a disaster

Nothing prepared me for the lengths that he would take to be difficult.

I initiated our separation.

I said I would be honest right? So here it is.

I met someone else. While I didn’t physically cheat on my ex; I did so, emotionally. Now some may say that, that in itself is cheating. But the long story short is that I caught a glimpse of a chance at being happy; and I wanted to take it. Whether or not that someone else wanted me too.

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I don’t think my saw it coming. But to be perfectly honest, he never really noticed things. He always seemed to be in his own world – watching different TV series, movies, playing video games. We lost our ability to talk to each other very early on in our marriage.

I wanted a separation

So when I told him that I wanted a separation, he could not understand why. He cried. He pleaded with me to give him another chance. He said it was his fault, and that I was the rock of the family. He said that he would try to get me back no matter the cost.

Even when I told him that I wanted to explore another chance at happiness with someone else, he said that he would keep trying.

We lost our ability to talk to each other very early on in our marriage.

He refused to move out of the house

My ex husband refused to move out of the house. I mentioned earlier that we were renting. I paid the rent. I was the main breadwinner of the family. So I paid for everything…. including all of our debt.

He refused. His parents were visiting from overseas and staying with us at the time. It was chaos. So I did. I moved out. This was another really difficult decision to make – as if ending an 11 year marriage was not terrifying enough. I moved out and had to leave my daughters in his care.

I visited the children everyday. They didn’t quite understand what was going on.

The situation escalated

As difficult as the situation already was, he tried even harder to make it worse.Soon enough, the tears and the pleading turned to anger and abuse.

He called me a whore. He called me a cheat. He called me a gold digger.

He sent me endless text messages and emails that were verbally and psychologically abusive in nature.

He stalked me and sent me messages saying that he was watching me from my driveway.

The police were called many times. Eventually, the police asked if I wanted to press charges. I cried and cried… and cried. I could not bring myself to do it. Instead, I settled for a Harassment Notice. This, at least, kept him at bay.

He called me a whore, a cheat, a gold digger.

Shortly after, Wayne and I took the risk and moved in together. We rented a house that was close to the school both my daughters attended, so that they would not have to move in the middle of the school year. With everything Wayne and I did, we tried to make sure that the children’s lives were not turned upside down any more that it already has.


Amidst all that, I knew that whatever happened, it was important for the children to have a relationship with both Mum and Dad. So I tried to organize shared custody arrangements between my ex and I. But that didn’t work.

“Amidst all that, I knew that whatever happened, it was important for the children to have a relationship with both Mum and Dad.”

Every time the children spent a weekend at his place, he would sit them down and interrogate them. He asked them questions about Wayne, about me, about the house. He told them their mum was a slut, a whore, a gold digger. He told that their mum would spread her legs for anyone.

The children remained brave over each weekend. They kept it all in. And whenever I picked them up, the moment they closed the car doors… they cried. They didn’t just sniffle and tear up. They cried so hard that they could not breathe.

I tried to talk to him about it many times. But it never seemed to register in his mind.

Family Court

This went on until the Family Court hearing took place. The children were appointed a Family Court Lawyer, who recommended that their Dad get supervised visits until such time that he knew which matters could be discussed with the children, and which ones should remain between adults. It seems like common sense… but in this instance, it simply wasn’t. He didn’t turn up to the hearing. Eventually, the Judge ruled that full custody of the children would go to me.

This was hard for the children.

So what do you do when your separation is not an amicable one?

  1. Do not involve the children. This is so important. Even if your ex is the one saying ill things about you; do not go the same way. Only ever tell the children the truth – and that is that mummy and daddy love them, no matter what.
  2. Remind them that none of it is their fault. Children have this innate way of thinking that mum and dad split up or are fighting because of something they have done.
  3. If they ask, tell them… but only what they need to know. For example, my oldest daughter who was 10 years old at the time, asked me, “Why did you leave Daddy?”. I answered by telling her that I was unhappy. After that, they will ask you something else. In the same manner, answer their question and only what they need to know. Whilst children are very intelligent, they also still need time to process things. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you sit them down for an hour to talk about it. They are not your sounding boards.
  4. If mum or dad are acting in a manner that can be perceived as being “mean”, do not put them down. Simply tell them that mum or dad is not acting very grown up at the moment, and that we just need to give them time.
  5. Remind your children that they are loved – by both parents. Do not make them choose – this is so important!

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In the end, time eases all things. Until then, hold your head up and take care of yourself ♥
 

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