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How do you help a toddler through parental separation?

(27 Posts)
Shirva Wed 30-Oct-19 22:54:03

Hello. New to this! Time of crisis ahead...DIL is leaving DS, moving away, so 2 year old DGS will split the week geographically as well as parentally. How can I help him through the changes, including a double house move? sad

BradfordLass72 Thu 31-Oct-19 01:32:19

Poor little thing, how sad.
There is no doubt he'll suffer but if you see him regularly, just try to be as loving and undemanding as possible.

Being two is difficult enough but being 2 and losing your Daddy will be awful. How often will he see Dad? You seem to imply half the week, is that right?

A few things you might consider: don't worry about regression, he may want to be babied a bit more.
He may not sleep too well and become fearful.
He may also become more demanding.

Never say anything bad about Mum not even when you think he can't hear you - children have ears on stalks, even when asleep!.

Allow for the fact he may be scared about losing you as well, as you are associated with the Dad he's losing in some way.

If he can stay with you during the house move, that would help, then he doesn't have to see all the upheaval.

Try to make his 'lovely new home' sound exciting and nice but be aware he'll actually want the old familiar.

Be consistent with routine when he's with you. He will need some stability.

Just love him and show him lots of affection. You can't do much more.

Hithere Thu 31-Oct-19 02:02:26

Kids are surprisingly adaptable.
I would ask your son how you can help

Oopsminty Thu 31-Oct-19 05:45:50

I've been through this. Just make it an exciting adventure. He's young enough to cope

And as has been mentioned, never bad mouth Mum!

Hm999 Thu 31-Oct-19 09:45:32

Bradford Lass - excellent advice

optimist Thu 31-Oct-19 09:52:51

I went through this with my son, my grandson was 4 and is now 18. My house was his consistent place, he spent a lot of time here and at 18 seems to have survived. Now the same situation is looming with my daughter and my grandaughter is 9. At least the situation is not unusual these days.

Ohmother Thu 31-Oct-19 09:55:19

It’s the parents that will need to do most to get him through. They’ll need to be respectful of each other. Not bad mouthing the other within earshot. Not use him as a weapon to hurt the other. When he’s older not use him as a spy, a go between for messages or a confidant. Allow him to love each parent.

It is their break up not his! Support your son in carrying out these necessary deeds.

💐 for you. It going to be tough for you too X

Esmerelda Thu 31-Oct-19 09:55:27

Very good advice from BradfordLass72 there.

I would simply reassure him on every occasion that his mum, his dad, and you all love him very much and this doesn't change anything in that respect.

Bbbface Thu 31-Oct-19 10:06:47

Has 50:50 actually been confirmed? Unusual and very destabilising for a child that young

trisher Thu 31-Oct-19 10:11:30

Bbface It is neither unusual nor destabilising. It is the way things are going as men step up and take equal responsibility for their child. There may be a problem when he starts school but if the parents can work to overcome that it will work out.

jaylucy Thu 31-Oct-19 10:14:28

Just be there ready to give a lot of love and cuddles and don't treat him any differently than you usually would.
Never take sides even when he is older and he asks questions - the only ones that truly know what happened in break ups are the people actually breaking up

paintingthetownred Thu 31-Oct-19 10:20:18

If there has been discord in the previous arrangement, you may find that this will be an improvement for everyone.

I realise some may not like this view, but very important for the child to be calm about it. It is the norm for a lot of families nowadays and for whatever reason, lots of families are single-parent families/what they call 'blended' i.e. married for the second time etc.

It is a transition for everybody. Your grandchild will not be alone in having separated parents when they go to school and the staff, if they are doing their job should be completely professional about it i.e. with pick ups etc.

The family court, where such arrangements are decided, is supposed to be confidential in the interests of the child.

So you will have to wait (or ask) for the parents to tell you what the arrangement is going to be. It will take a while for them to get their heads around it themselves. Important thing is to provided stability, which you are clearly doing and be positive about the future.

all best

paintingthetownred Thu 31-Oct-19 10:21:15

I mean that the grown ups remain calm. Child may also be calm of course, but they will be working their way through all sorts of feelings, understandably.

paintingthetownred Thu 31-Oct-19 10:22:26

And in my view jaylucy comments spot on

EllanVannin Thu 31-Oct-19 10:28:21

Now imagine this scenario with 7 children in the equation.
Apart from the house move.

What IS going on with these young families ?

Our family are facing an uphill battle in sorting out the lives of the children, our youngest is 3. It's not an easy situation to overcome.

silverlining48 Thu 31-Oct-19 10:49:19

When I was working I found when talking to children that they often believed the family break up was their fault and had they behaved better, this would not have happened.

Reassurance is needed and as has been said they need to know that both parents still love them very much, and it is to do with the parents and nothing at all to do with the child’s (bad) behaviour.

Alexa Thu 31-Oct-19 10:51:20

Has the toddler any preference for either parent?

BusterTank Thu 31-Oct-19 11:17:10

The best thing is just let him know you are there for him . Tell him what ever is said between the pair of you , will stay that way . Never bad mouth his mother even if you disagree with what she's doing . With a good family support he will be just find .

icanhandthemback Thu 31-Oct-19 11:19:29

I'm not sure that there is a great deal you can do in this situation apart from encourage your son to put his child first in all arrangements. You can only reiterate to the child that Mummy and Daddy love him equally even if they don't love each other any more and nothing will ever change that.
In our personal circumstances, we have found that never saying anything derogatory about the other parent has been the best way forward. Children are capable of working out for themselves what faults their parents have and pointing them out just irritates them!

Saggi Thu 31-Oct-19 11:43:57

My daughter and son in law have just split.... she has moved into what was their renter home. Kids are 12 and 7 , have been told this is happening for over a year, and parents have taken the split slowly and cautiously .... but now it’s reality, and they’ve accepted the situation. Although the youngest has regressed slightly ,in as much as she crawls into bed with mum or dad , depending whose house she’s in. There are no other partners involved. They have them week and week about , the changeover happening on Sunday around 4 pm, so kids have time to settle in other parents home before school on Monday. Luckily they can do this ,as my daughter has only moved 3 miles from her husband, if and when emergencies crop up they are both there for kids and each other, and as I do the school walk three days a week morning and afternoon, I’m quite a stable influence in there lives. So far it’s working very well, as posters have said, never ,never bad mouth either mum or dad.... positivity moving forward is the way to go on. Good luck with your little one .

vickya Thu 31-Oct-19 12:02:45

My daughter and partner separated when grandson was about 2. He was Mon/Tues with mum and Wed/Thurs with datd weekends alternate parents. They lived near enough for it to work well, both parents cooperated and grandparents helped with collecting from nursery and then school.Grandson is 13 now and the system has worked.

The parents have had holidays together and spent with the dad's family. Daughter's second partnership ended too and there was a one-year old granddaughter. That didn't work so well as the parents were not able to cooperate, money/access fights, but granddaughter is fine, 4 years old now and things improved. She had days with dad when he was in the UK, lots of time abroad working, and a week holiday with him now and then.

First partner is favourite childcare for this granddaughter, although grandparents help too. The secret seems to be how well the parents can work together to put the child first.

When the 13 year old had a few issues a year or two ago the two parents were in tune about how to sort it and all was well. Those were the kind all teen boys have smile. Too much time addicted to the computer.

wildswan16 Thu 31-Oct-19 13:10:24

So long as both parents act sensibly then the little one will adapt OK to the change in his living arrangements. If he is still a toddler then explanations etc are of little use.

Keep it very simple - mummy lives in this house, daddy lives in the other house. You're going to have two beds to sleep in.

Hopefully both parents will agree on routines etc so he does not get confused about bedtime, mealtimes etc.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 31-Oct-19 14:18:32

If you see him regularly in your home, try to keep everything the way it always has been in your home when he comes. That way you provide a place that hasn't changed.

I hope he adapts well. I imagine he is still in nappies, 2 year olds are these days, so you won't need to cope with an increase of wet trousers or beds, which is a small child's normal reaction to change.

Shirva Thu 31-Oct-19 16:28:50

What lovely, sympathetic and helpful replies. I have been worrying and feeling down about the imminent change to 2 counties, let alone homes and it has been so reassuring! Yes, 50:50 it is with mid week and weekend transfers of about 2.5 hours. Far from ideal in my view but both parents have been very involved in childcare and not at all sure DIL could cope as main carer. I spend a lot of time with my grandson and son so can be the stability which I think is vital. Thank you all for sharing experiences and learned wisdom!!

Nanna58 Fri 01-Nov-19 18:36:27

Shirva , how lovely that they are both taking the view that equal care is important. With their attitude and your care I’m sure DGS will cope really well.