Help Me Over The Finish Line Please

Ok, so 5 years sexless.
I finally pulled the plug.
Divorce is in the works.
All in all it have been pretty amicable - albeit VERY difficult.

The whole process really sucks, but like many here, I just have to escape enough is enough.

So anyway, now it is time to let me 13 year old daughter know.
This is unquestionably the toughest part yet.

Has anyone been through this with a child?
What did you learn?
Any advice?

Even if you haven't, any words of encouragement would be appreciated.....I'm so close, but this is brutal.....HELP PLEASE.
remodelme remodelme 41-45, M 15 Responses May 26, 2012

Your Response


Try living in present and letting the daughter find that courage alike you.


If you and your wife are sufficiently amicable, I recommend telling her together. But if this is not the case, then you are wise to present the whole thing as objectively and sensitively as you can, without in any way putting down her mother.

Tell her how hard you and her mother have both worked at saving your marriage, how much you both wanted it to succeed, but that now you both realise it cannot work.

Reassure her of your love, your continued involvement in her life, your ready availability if she needs you.

Don't be surprised or too upset if she is angry, rude or totally out of control. Thirteen is a difficult age for so many reasons. If she reacts badly, simply take it as calmly as you can and tell her you understand she is upset and angry and that is OK. (Of course, if she is really rude or abusive to either you or her mother, that is NOT OK!)

Also don't be surprised if her reaction is very self centred. "Who will take me to netball?" "How will I have enough money to buy the things I want?" Again, this is a very self centred stage and she may focus entirely (or largely) on how your decision affects her - with little thought for you or her mother.

On the other hand, she might be sensitive, sensible, accepting, supportive or tearful, sad and very distressed. ANY of the above reactions - or a combination - are to be expected. No matter how hard it is, stay "adult" and be calm, accepting and supportive yourself. A few shared tears are OK - a slanging match is not.

Assure her she can ask any questions and you will answer them honestly. And honour that promise. If you think the questions are veering into territory like sex and you don't want to discuss this, tell her that she needs to ask such questions when you and her mother are together - because this is her mother's private business too and you have no right to speak for her mother.

I encourage you to plan an outing or activity that will take place a few hours later. Such as a trip to the cinema, or lunch at a restaurant - something "grown up" - to do together. Don't dwell on the separation but talk frankly with her if she brings it up.

Plan with her how she will be included in your "new" life. Can she have her own room at your new place? Can she decorate it as she wishes? If not, can you both buy new furniture for it - something she chooses? Possibly second hand and paint it? Even if you don't like her choices in paint colours or decor, go along with them unless they involve great cost or will contravene your lease.

But in all this, be CAREFUL not to try and win her over with your generosity and by "buying" her loyalty. Offer these things over a period of time, and be sure you discuss this with her mother too. You don't want your STBX accusing you of bribing your daughter . . . .

Every best wish for everything to work out well. It may be very tough for awhile, but it WILL get better. If you get a bad initial reaction, hold that truth close as you both work through the tough times together.

:) thank you for the thoughtful response!

Please ignore the vicious, nasty troll that got to this post first. She has been a long time poster here, and her cruelty is at time astounding. She has gone so far as to tell posters here to suicide...

As for your dilemma, I advise honesty... but having never been through that particular agony myself, in truth, all I can do is offer support.

I do believe that ending an unhappy marriage is healthier for the kids in the long run. Else one simply teaches them that misery is normal.

Just sharing my experience. My kids needed to know what would change and what would stay the same. I tell them and show them my love for them is a given. I co-parent and my kids stay with me three or four nights a week. I see them six times a week. Try not to let your bond with your child slip. Both you and her will draw comfort from this.

Kids are smart but they look to their parents for reassurance. Be your child's anchor. I practice open and honest communication. I answer every question asked in a way that my kids understand. If I cannot explain adequately, I ask that I can talk about the topic when they are older. My kids know I am good for it. Trust is paramount.

I work very hard to ensure good boundaries between my kids mom and I and there have been times we have needed to discuss ground rules on behavior. I do not demean her or discuss her negatively to my kids and I trust she honors this as well.

In the beginning, there were questions on whether we would get back together. These I gently and firmly addressed. Hugs and quiet moments are always good. They are not wrong to feel what they feel and I encourage them to talk about their feelings with me. Be authentic and also make sure that you do not project your grieving or anger onto your child. This is what time alone and counselling is for.

Lastly, kids are resilient but they need you to show the way. You are separating from your spouse, not from your child and your child needs to know that you are there for her. That is all I got - its an unfolding journey and just as we teach our kids, we learn from them.

Be well.

One thought I shared withb others is that we are living a lie in SM while we know the truth...that is no way to live as we are actually not living we are just dying slowly from the inside out.As i mentioned I don't have children

Your child in time will adjust...I think in the old days it was harder on children because for one the parents were not good at protecting the children from the truth of the lovelessness in the home & there was always a negative look at divorce. Now children are so much more in tune with what goes on in their home that they will adjust quicker than we I said I don't have children

But I am involved in counseling a volunteer. I also remember as a child I always wished that my parents would just wouldn't be normal ...but instead it would be a good new normal.

I will pray that God will give your heart the words that will speak to your child's heart.


So sorry for your pain...I actually am feeling your pain...I don't have children but because of financial & businesses I own it will be a while before I can exit. I have posted 2 stories & I have had a lot of support from new friends on EP.

Blessings to you

we just told our two girls (15 and 12) last weekend that we "Dad is moving out"...that we have worked hard at trying to be happy together, and we think now we should try living apart (we are not filing for divorce at this time). was suggested to me to talk to them outside of the house (we went to a cafe) not to have this talk be at home..i liked that idea. the girls didn't say anything really...we were all quiet for a while. if anything this last week has been pretty good...they are treating both me and their Dad fine, and seems to me less tension...good luck...and i am sorry for how hard it is!

The most important thing for your daughter will be security and stability - the more definitive and certain you are about what you tell her, the easier it will be for her to cope and process it. A little simplification won't hurt if things are too ambiguous.

Wishy-washy statements and vacillating will rock her boat. Try to be as straight up and honest as you can, maybe avoiding bringing up adult topics that may be a bit hard for her to grasp yet unless she does that herself.

wishing you well, -p.

You have my complete support on this.

There were no children in my marriage, so I regret I cannot intelligently respond to your request for advice from that perspective.

I can however, offer this...I was told by my parents at age 13 that they were divorcing. Aside from the intial shock and subsequent feelings of abandonment (he announced he was moving to FLA with his girlfriend), I was overtaken by relief. Relief that I no longer had to witness them arguing...relief that maybe I could live the remainder of my childhood as um, a child.

Kids see and hear more than you think. I'm willing to bet she won't be as shocked as you anticipate. If the two of you can present a unified message to her, she'll fare much better.

Best wishes to you.


I don't know what is the right timing. I have seen people announce it and leave immediately, I have seen others take 6 months or more - and everything in between. I will tell her and move about 3-4 weeks after. I do feel with my daughter she will want to know how things will be and I want the ability to explain them to her, take her to the new home, have her help me decorate, etc.. and transition into it and her new parental relationship during summer. I really feel better about that preparation than have concern. mostly worried about the talk and assuring I handle the best way possible and provide the best support I can thereafter.

You replies mean a lot to me. This entire process has been exhausting. It has also become necessary for me be happy in life, pursue a normal relationship, and give me a better disposition to be a better father and role model for my child.

Thank you so much.

Like Destiny, I reckon you have been a bit tardy on this. But what is done (or not) is history, so you can only attend to this "now".

Teenagers are pretty self centered, so I reckon she needs re-assurance that HER world isn't going to get too disrupted.

Whatever you do say, try and slant it from the real position - that is to say from YOU as her loving and engaged father, NOT as your wifes husband. It is a subtle, yet important, distinction.

Tread your own path.

All I wanted to add was this:

that the reason you held off telliing your daughter, was to protect her,and have in place, a situation that would be in her best interest.Those are good reasons.

You were trying to be able to offer her stability. By holding off telling her, until everything is organized, is honestly a smart thing to do. At least you can now tell her factual information. You will not be offering vague information about where she might live or might go to school, instead you will be telling her exactly where whe will live and go to school..She will be able to count on what you are telling her..That fact .....will prove to be a huge comfort to her..... She will know that she can count on you to be honest with her. She will know that she can trust what you say.

you are a kind soul...made me cry in a good way. Thanks - this was my intent, I just never know if I have done things as well as I hope.

Just to add to the other comments. Please don't drive yourself crazy with worry - I know what that is like. At 13 your daughter will probably be quite a mature girl - I certainly was at that age. As long as you keep telling her that you love her and want her to be a part of your life - and keep seeing her, texting her, phoning her - I am sure she will handle the news better than you think. Don't beat yourself up about not telling her before now - you wanted all the building blocks to be in place for her. I also feel that girls of this age are often more flexible and handle it better than boys. I have two stepchildren - their mum left my DH for another guy and they have turned out brilliantly as adults. DH has been a good dad in all fairness to him and kept the relationship going. They are now in their thirties and still all close - the daughter really close, ended up working in the same field as DH.

Your child is 13 years old. She is more mature and aware than you probably realise. She may even have conflict and rejection issues of her own. Therefore, you may not be talking to a complete stranger in any event. Just tell her the brutal truth, that it is about compatibility issues between you and your STBX and that it has nothing to do with her. She is your daughter and that is it. Tell her you will be available at the end of the phone, email, personal call when she wants, it is just going to take a bit of pre-preparation on some occasions. Tell her it is solely down to her how she wants to conduct future relationships and that she doesn't need to allow mum or dad determine how she wants that to be.

We have told our kids... because the oldest (age 8) actually asked... the youngest is pretty oblivious (age 3) but we talk about it around her.

I would make sure you focus on your child rather than yourself : make sure you are not feeling too emotional, let your child know you will be there for HER and that this is not because of HER at all. Likely she has many friends with divorced parents.

Don't over inundate her with too much info, and let her ask questions on her own time. Be prepared to answer her questions openly and honestly as possible.

Best of luck with this part. It is difficult, but I bet you anything she already KNOWS something is wrong. Kids are super intuitive.

The other thing is that she may be worried about something that seems totally silly to you - but especially at age 13 she will be centred on how HER life would change with this event.

Thank you for replying. I do understand your last point. One of my many reasons for delaying the divorce was wanting to assure we had sufficient $ to allow her to stay in the same home, continue the same hobbies, and not have her lifestyle impacted. I am going to follow you advice as others have suggested the same - not to overwhelm with information. I think we have most of the common questions answered and we have jointly discussed for consistency sake.

I do believe in time all will be well as we both love her so much. Even though my rational mind knows this, I am finding it impossible to not worry myself crazy about her.

It is because you are a good parent that you are worried about her. You will get through this, and so will she. It is obvious to us all that you love her and have put her interests first.