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My 3 year old son's mother and I split up long ago when he was only about 6 months old. We have a good co-parenting relationship, and we're at peace with each other.

I started dating last year. My son really liked her, but we broke up after about 6 months. During the time we were together, she was a large part of my son's and my life.

For quite a while, my son would not ask about her at all; all of a sudden, every time I get my son, he is asking if we're going to [Ex's name]'s house today, where I just try to reply that we aren't together anymore, so no. We broke up about 7 months ago, and this behaviour just started happening a few weeks ago.

The horrible falling out involves the child she gave birth to, as it's actually not mine. I am not interested in trying to restore that relationship, and neither is she. I would not want my son to completely forget her, as she was a good step-parent for the time she was around, but I feel like I'm breaking his heart by saying we aren't together. What can I do to help him move on?

  • Your post is confusing: why say you got her pregnant if you didn't? – DanBeale Dec 24 '14 at 19:08
  • Because that was what caused the falling out, learning it wasn't mine. If you feel it's irrelevant, then feel free to edit it out – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Dec 24 '14 at 19:09
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    Have you talked about this with your son's mother? If he suddenly started asking every time he moves from her to you, she might know something about it. Maybe he is asking her, too? – sbi Dec 25 '14 at 21:22
  • I doubt it, as he thoroughly understands we are two separate family units – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Dec 25 '14 at 21:51
  • You really need to restore your relationship with you ex. Your son will never forget his mom and will never understand your explanation rather will take it against himself when he is older. – Grasper Dec 31 '14 at 19:49
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Acknowledge your child's feelings: "you liked X didn't you? You used to have some fun together. Can you remember the things you did?".

Then move the conversation on. "We don't see here any more, do we? We do other things now. That's a shame isn't it?"

Then look to the future. "Maybe I'll find someone different. Would you like that? What do you think she'll be like?"

You might need to keep repeating this conversation.

Do not mention fault. Do not say "don't worry, it isn't your fault that she left" unless the child specifically mentions it to you.

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    I think this is great. I've been using the "imagine" line in other contexts and my kids like it. In this case, there's the benefit that your son will feel like he's involved in your life and what he'd like in a step-parent. – Geoff Hutchison Jan 2 '15 at 17:59
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I would guess your son is really asking "why aren't you together with [ex's name] anymore?"

In case that's true, perhaps you can take the time to more fully explain the break-up to your son. Obviously he is young, so you'll have to tailor your explanation accordingly -- but I'd suggest giving him something more detailed than "we're not together anymore."

  • Suggestions? I've done this as well, when we first broke up – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Dec 24 '14 at 17:44
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    I think DanBeale's answer includes some ideal examples. And I think he is spot-on about might needing to repeat the conversation... it might take awhile for your son to grasp what happened and then move on. But I believe he will grasp and will move on. (And I applaud you for asking for help on this tricky issue.) – Shiz Z. Dec 25 '14 at 1:27

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