April 29, 2010,
A.F. asks from Windsor, CO on April 27, 2010
Separated but Spending Time Together as a Family
My husband and I separated about 2 months ago. The kids and I are staying with my parents about an hour away from our home. My husband still lives in the home. He and I still talk everyday and usually enjoy spending time together. My children are 4,3, and 1. I want them to get to experience our family together but am so worried that we're confusing them - Mommy and Daddy don't live together anymore but are still together all the time. I'm just not sure where to go with this. I've tried the 'trust your instinct' approach and have felt like that's worked well but I'm getting a lot of raised eyebrows and headshakes from family and friends. So, I guess my question is, are we hurting our kids by continuing to do things as a family? What about overnights at our house - all 5 of us? Are we confusing our kids or just lettiing them know that Mommy and Daddy are having problems but that we still love each other?
Posted this earlier but after some responses feel like I should clarify a bit. I left my husband because he was angry, verbally abusive, depressed and could hardly function. He is a recovered addict and a week after I left he relapsed after being clean for 6 years. I do love him and would like to work it out but it's still too early to know if that's possible. He's working on himself very hard and I am working on myself so who knows? If we are able to get back together, it will probably be down the road a bit. There's a lot to fix! But we are both working towards the goal of having our family back together in the long run.
A.F. answers from Burlington on April 27, 2010
I'm not in the same situation but a similar one. My daughter's father and I have never lived together and are not together as a couple but we have a friendly relationship and do a great (in my opinion) job of raising our daughter as co-parents. When I take her to his house on Sunday we usually meet at a restaurant and all have lunch together. When he brings her back to me on Tuesdays he meets me at my job (at a hotel) and they swim together and I hang out and watch them. Occasionally he'll bring her to my house instead and we'll all have dinner together. He's in the National Guard and when he has his weekends away I take his dog and she stays with my daughter and I. We went to church and dinner together for Easter. My daughter sees two parents who care about each other and LOVE her beyond anything else. She's only 2.5 but knows that we communicate with each other in regards to her daily. The rules are the same at both houses. When she's with me we call Daddy every night to say goodnight and same when she's with him. During those phone calls her entire day (from good to naughty behavior) is talked about. I don't know if this is going to be confusing for her...I don't think so because it's her only reality. I think it's better for her by far to have two happy parents apart but who can have fun together then two miserable parents together.
Go with your gut and do what YOU and your husband think is best for you and your family. Don't worry about what others might think about your situation.
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N.S. answers from Chicago on April 27, 2010
I don't think you're doing anything wrong as far as your children go. However, if you and your husband get along so well, why haven't you tried to work it out?
If "family time" is just a lie and you're just hanging around just to hang around that seems wrong. Real family time includes the love of the parents for each other. My stepdaughter's mom and her family come to events and family gatherings with us, but we're not "one big happy family" although her father and mother are nice to each other. It's more like they are just friends.
I think this arrangement will start to get sticky should you or your husband choose to divorce and another person arrives in the picture.
I think you should either work it out or go your separate ways--and still be civil of course. Don't worry about your kids...worry about how YOU sound confused!
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A.R. answers from Salt Lake City on April 28, 2010
When my Ex and I split we initially spent alot of time together. We did everything together, shopped ate lived (he slept on the couch becuase he had no where to go. His mom kicked him out when he tried to move home) I was worried this would confuse the kids, but really we just stressed that we were still a family. No matter what mom and dad were doing in thier relationship, we still loved them very much and were still thier family. We lived in a really small town so there were rumors galore but every time someone gave us funny looks or asked questions we just explained we were doing the best we could for our kids. We made our decision about what was best for us and for our kids. Two years later we are offically divorced but we still spend lots of time together and do alot with the kids. Instead of confusing the kids, now when people say something its like "duh, my parents love me, thats why" its normal for them and thats how we wanted it. Good luck with everything. Its not easy. Being this involved with my ex is still dificult in alot of ways but as parents we sacrifice anything for our kids right? Over all its so worth it to make sure my kids know they are loved unconditionally by both parents and that our split had nothing to do with them!
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J.D. answers from Denver on April 28, 2010
First of all, good for you for leaving the abusive relationship.
I don't thing there's a "wrong" or "right" way to handle this. The separation is so new and things might work out eventually. This isn't a black-and-white situation. I think the kids might be confused, but they're so young, so I don't know they you're really hurting them by leaving things so gray for the time being. If they start asking questions, then explain that you and their father love them very much, but you just have a unique kind of family.
Kids like it when their parents are together if the situation is happy. So, I would keep getting together as a family as long as the visits go well. If there starts to be tension/abusive behavior/etc, then stop the family visits.
Of course, if your husband has a tendency toward anger and abusive behavior, I probably wouldn't leave the kids alone with him anyway.
1 mom found this helpful
D.A. answers from Panama City on April 27, 2010
It kind of depends on the status of your relationship. Are you on the way to a divorce, or just separated trying to work things out? Separations aren't always permanant, my husband and I separated when our first child was about 6 months old (this was before we were married). The separation lasted about 4 months, and we got back together and have been together and happy ever since. If you think your separation is only temporary, I would continue to do as you are doing. However, if you think that there is no way it's going to work out, and it's going to end in divorce, you should probably decrease these 'family' times pretty soon, because it will begin to confuse them. Since you guys still get along, maybe your marriage is salvagable. Hope everything works out for you!
T.W. answers from Denver on April 29, 2010
Kudos to you and your husband for working on this together! And to answer your question, "NO" you are not going to ruin your kids. Now that doesn't mean they will not be a bit confused here and there but you and your husband are making decisions that will not only keep them safe but strengthen your family in the long run.
I do not think anyone would disagree when I say that living with an addict is a very abusive and dangerous scenario. Your kids to not need to be around that. I think that you all spending time together and trying to figure things out slowly is awesome. I hope you are seeking counseling to help him with is anger and addiction issues and you with your coping skills and to help teach both of you to keep your kids feeling secure. It is real important so you do not continue to relive this over and over again. That would be when you would need to dissolve the marriage.
Last of all, be sure to be very upfront with your kids, even at their young ages they need to learn healthy ways to deal with issues. They will also learn how powerful love is and how to keep it alive even in the worst situations.
Good for you and good luck to you.
P.S. I would not do sleep overs, the whole point of separating is to work on the problem and if you are making house when the problem is still there then the motivation to get better goes down. Make sense?
If you need a good family counselor call Monica Braden at ###-###-####, she is a bit far for you but excellent, you will love her.
C.P. answers from Cleveland on April 27, 2010
It sounds as though dad and yourself need to come to an agreement as to whether you're going to stay together or go your seperate ways, although it seems like you both have chosen to be together....... so why haven't you moved back home? Children are very observant and before too long if they haven't already they are going to start asking questions which you or dad won't be able to satisfy if your minds are not made up. Best of luck.
S.K. answers from Denver on April 28, 2010
Sounds like you have your head on very straight and are handling this really really well. I can't offer advice, except that only you will really be able to decide - I don't think anyone else can really tell you the right answers about your situation. If others express judgment but you feel in your heart you are following your instinct, you need to be true to yourself. It's one thing if people express concerns such as "I am concerned for your safety because so-and-so has been abusive or violent." It's another matter when there are such gray areas, and you are clearly working on things. I can't say for sure, but I would think that it's good for your kids that you can spend time together. I think that has to be better than uncomfortable or hostile separation.
H.Q. answers from Great Falls on April 27, 2010
My parents were separated from the time I was 3 until just after my 7th birthday. We lived with my Dad's grandmother, and Daddy lived in another city. We didn't do a lot together as a family, but Daddy came to visit us sometimes. (It was a few hours each direction) Just after I turned 7, Daddy asked Mom to move with him to California - they've been together since and not looked back. My point is that separation is NOT insurmountable. I understand that sometimes you just need some space. And your kids are young enough right now that space won't cause many questions. But, you and your hubs are going to have to make some decisions about you.
While you're spending time together, are you working on your relationship? Is whatever that has caused the separation something you and/or he can work around or fix? My parents separated due to an affair which came about for many reasons. They will celebrate 41 years of marriage this July. Do you want the marriage to work? Does he? These are things that need to be dealt with. Because if you continue to do family time while separated, eventually the kids WILL start to ask questions. I eventually realized that sometimes Daddy spent the night, but he didn't live with us. And I started to ask questions then.
You are not hurting your kids. But if there is no hope for your marriage, you may be making things harder on yourselves.
Let me know if you have other questions - I'll be happy to tell you whatever you want to know. But you and your husband need to make a decsion about your future - do you want it together? If so, start working on that NOW.
J.P. answers from Salt Lake City on April 28, 2010
I think you are very wise to keep the family together as much as possible. Kids need to know they are loved by both parents. Keep things as normal as possible as well. If your husband isn't in counceling to help the anger issues, make sure he finds someone who he trusts to help him.This is a must, so he can spend time with you and the children in a good setting, where anger doesn't have to come up. Don't shield the kids however, because if they see that you can solve problems in your relationship, they will learn to be problem solvers as well. Let your husband know tht you believe in him and your family. It may give him the insentive to stay a family. I have a friend that was in an abussive relationship for 9 years, and her husband finally asked for help, and it worked. He is 66 years old. NOT TOO OLD TO CHANGE!
F.H. answers from Phoenix on April 28, 2010
In AZ it's required by the court that each parent MUST attend a parenting class when you are divorcing. In that class, the instructor said that you CANNOT do things together as a "family" after you have separated. You cannot hug each other, be together or anything. You must be nice to each other but it is too confusing for the kids when you are supposedly divorcing yet they see you together all the time. You have to do things apart, that is the way your life is going. Your kids must always come first but I would suggest getting them into counceling even at their age. Counceling for each of you wouldn't hurt either. Google "telling the kids about divorce" etc and read some articles. Good luck!