How to tell the kids... kind of involved

Ugh. Sorry to hear that you’ll have to deal with this. We’re in a similar boat except the STBX has always had 1/2 custody. Mostly we try to take the high road, although she has forced many issues due to her negative talk and erratic actions. (99% sure she has borderline personality disorder…so we try to see it as an illness.)

With the older children we’ve had to deal with financial issues as she accuses him of hiding assets and money, abandonning his family, and spending lavish amounts. They’ve lashed out at us in return. Our way of dealing with this is to open up our finances completely, showing what money comes in and what gets paid out, including check stubs, bank statements, and copies of bills. It takes patience, and a willingness to practically bite through one’s tongue to not disparage the other parent. Since we are willing to open our lives up to scrutiny and she is not, they are able to see for themselves what is going on.

The younger kids, of course, wouldn’t understand this so we try to explain what we can, as neutrally as we can, in a manner that they can understand without badmouthing. We try to keep a calm, peaceful environment when they are around, show them our happiness, and not talk badly about anyone. As a result, they get to see calm at our house and chaos and anger at hers.

We figure that they all will eventually work it out for themselves, and so far we’ve not been disappointed. There will always be ups and downs, and sometimes the kids will try to use stuff that she’s said to pressure us to get their own way, but we are aware that that is going on. Sometimes it’s hard, but sometimes we’re rewarded with a “Yeah, we understand why mom & dad aren’t together anymore. It makes sense.”

All you can do is love the kids. They will see by example. They may not understand it all now, but they will. I’m sure they’re very disappointed when Mom does not call or visit. You have to just do your best to just be there for them. If they get disappointed, tell them you’re sorry they’re upset and that hopefully Mom will call/see them soon.

As far as dealing with the bad stuff she may tell them…once again-lead by example. If they confront you, I think you have a right to set the record straight in terms that they understand. Don’t badmouth her back, just tell them the truth (as best as you think they should know and understand). It’s all you can do. One day, they will see the truth and respect you as a Dad for being honest with them.

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I did also, and it was difficult. But my children now understand what I was dealing with. They love their Dad, but they see the issues I had because they are now dealing with them, and the see them too through their own eyes.

so the stbx has not seen the kids in 5 months. i dont want to give away too much information… all will be explained in time… anyways
the stbx will has been given supervised visitation and permitted to call and/or text the children. how do i explain to the children that the stbx will again be in contact with them. how do i address the nasty things the stbx may say to the children (6, 9, 12). does anybody have any advice?