My ex-husband has a mental condition and I am now divorced - how do I explain this to the children?
At first I felt lost but with time I rediscovered myself and my aspirations which I am determined to pursue. I have since strengthened my spiritual life and have become financially stable. I am in a position to educate my children, feed, cloth and shelter them. I have managed to be their mentor so far. My husband's mother is very fond of my children and she is often sending them presents. She sometimes visits us at our home.
I have also allowed a close relation between the children and their father although they mostly communicate on the phone when he is stable. Unfortunately I never clearly told them the truth about his condition. Time after time he will do certain things that affect my life and disorientate me!
He recently re-married and my daughters are not quite amused. I would like to separate my life from my ex husband and assist in the retention of a good relationship between the children and their father.
What would be the easiest way of revealing to the children the truth about their father's mental disorder, explain his re-marrying and cut off my life from his?
People get together and marry and sometimes it doesn't work out. The best way to look at the break up is that you simply were not suited to each other. It is very important for your children's sake that you do not hold bitterness, resentment and blame in your heart with regard to your ex-husband. Children are very sensitive and pick up these feelings from their parents. By absorbing such negative feelings the children can quickly come to feel that one parent was to blame and then get very confused - or worse still conclude that they were the cause of their parents divorce. You cannot control the attitude of your ex-husband, but if you take the correct approach you will have a healing effect on the undoubted shock that you children will suffer when confronted by your divorce.
I agree with telling your children the truth that you and your ex-husband are no longer together - at 14, 12 and 10 they should be old enough to hear it. However, as you rightly surmise, how you tell them is very important. I would explain the break up in this manner. Explain to your children thus:
By taking the right approach to telling your children about your divorce, you are teaching your children about the boundaries of responsibility and by rising to the challenge of your current life's circumstances, you are preparing yourself to be a leader and mentor in society.
Further Help and Resources
For you to be successful in supporting your children through your separation it is important that you are able to grieve properly and fully for the loss of your marriage. To help you with this you might seek the help of a bereavement counselor or join a bereavement group, so that you can explore difficult feelings you may be having. Most areas have such services posted on local community and church notice boards.