Single Parenting/Divorce affecting the children
My wife has filed for divorce after falling out of love with me. We get along ok but she wants me to leave as soon as possible. It's been two months since we separated and our two daughters, 8 and 4 have been affected. My eldest has turned against me as she is on her mums 'side' and now hates me for no reason. My youngest clings to me and defends me if anything is said against me. It's breaking my heart and I didn't want any if this. My wife seems to not care or show any emotion or understanding, just saying the kids will be fine. I know they will be well looked after but what can I do to protect them from this sutuation? I work long hours and would only see them at weekends. My wife wants to build a friendship with me which will make access easier but how badly can this affect their little minds? What can I do to minimise their confusion?
Thank you for your message. Apologies for the delay in response as sometimes I don't get a notification that there is a pending message.
I am sorry to hear what you are going through and more so your children. Divorce sadly affects the kids more than the parents as kids of that age are not emotionally or mentally equipped to deal with the fallout.
Having a friendship would make things easier on your daughters as having to experience animosity as well as all the other aspects of the divorce would not be a good thing for them or yourselves as that would inevitably have a negative effect on your ability as parents.
The best advice I can give is that you explain to your daughters that what has happened is in no way their fault and that you work long hours and will see them every spare moment that you have.
In light of the animosity from your 8 year old, you have no idea what her mom has said to her so it is difficult to advise as not knowing the source of the animosity can result in any advise being a catalyst to make things worse. Perhaps have a chat to your eldest daughter, alone somewhere, in a park or something and without pointing fingers or laying blame and try and determine what is at the root of her problem. Remember to use non-threatening words when you speak to her so that she also does not immediately get on the defensive side.
Your younger daughter might be more protective as she doesn't like the animosity from her sister and who knows what she is hearing between her mother and older sister. Some daughters also just have a closer bond with their mother than their father - the same being vice versa with your older daughter and her mother.
This is a very intense, delicate situation and your daughters are at such impressionable ages as well.
Handle everything with them with kids gloves and extreme sensitivity. However, having said that you also can't allow them to use this to walk all over you and inevitably manipulate the situation and play you and their mother against each other in order for them to get away with more than they normally would if you were a united family still.
Communication is imperative between you and their mother, as decisions will still need to be made in unity regardless of the fact that you two are not together anymore. You still are parents to those two precious children and that needs to remain the focus.
I hope what I have said makes sense and helps you.
If you need to clarify or sound board at any time, please don't hesitate to give me a shout and I will help where I can.
Good luck and keep strong