Dealing With a Breakup When Kids Are Involved.
(ThySistas.com) It may be something that is a million miles away in your mind or something that is much closer for you. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that breaking up with your partner is made all the more difficult if you have kids. Your number one priority will be protecting them and making sure they come out the other side with as little emotional turmoil as possible. In order to do this, both you and your partner have to try to put your differences aside for the good of the kids.
If you feel like your relationship is coming to an end and don’t know how best to protect your kids from the situation, here is some advice to get you through this difficult time.
Plan What to do Next
Though this will be an extremely emotional time for both you and your former partner, it’s also a time when you need to get practical. Firstly, you need to establish the terms of the separation so that both of you are on the same page with regards to your living situation and division of responsibilities. Consider the current routines and habits you have as a family, and how you will keep these as consistent as possible. Next, you need to think about when you are going to tell the kids. It may be that you want to get settled in your new living situation before broaching this subject, but don’t put the conversation off for too long as kids are very perceptive and are likely to cotton on to what is happening.
Have the Conversation
Once you feel the time is right, it’s time to actually have the difficult conversation with your kids. Sit down together as a family and gently explain exactly what is going on. Both you are your former partner should speak equally. The amount of detail you go into will depend on the age of the kids. If they are very young, you will probably want to put things in more simplistic terms. If they are older, they are more likely to raise questions and objections which you should answer as best you can. Remember to reinforce that the breakup has nothing to do with them and you both love them and will continue to do so in your new situation. Make sure that you both put on a united front to show them that you are both in agreement on this issue.
Deal with the Fallout
In the days and weeks after having this initial conversation, you are very likely to see an emotional reaction from your kids. Some will react with anger and blaming whereas others will become quiet and withdrawn. These are both natural reactions, and need to be dealt with in different ways. Emotional outbursts are to be expected, but you should still maintain discipline if any household rules are being broken to show that your living situation will remain the same. Try to talk to a child who has retreated inwards and reinforce the same messages that you spoke about during the initial conversation. Over time, both you and your kids will start to adjust to the new living situation.
Maintain Your Routines
We’ve already talked about it a little bit earlier on, but you should try to keep your routines as consistent as possible. This is already a huge upheaval for your kids, but keeping as much as you can the same will help them through the situation. Obviously, some things will have to be different as their time will likely be split between two different households. But try to agree with your partner to keep the household routines and rules the same in both places. This will maintain as much balance as possible between you and your former partner.
Communicate with Others
Though the separation is not necessarily anyone else’s business, you should speak to certain people who need to know about it. This may include family members, close friends, teachers and other authority figures. These people will then be able to keep an eye on your kids and help out by explaining to you how they are coping when you are not around. You may also need these people as a support network for yourself, so you can turn to them in times of need. You will never be able to look after your kids properly without looking after yourself as well.
Keep Cool in front of the Kids
This is going to be difficult at times, but you should always try to keep your emotions level in front of your kids, particularly when you are around your former partner. You may well find it extremely difficult speaking to them, but you should at least try to remain civil and respectful. You should also try to avoid talking negatively about your former partner in front of the kids as they are likely to pick up on this over time and start taking sides. Show them that you can both still be supportive and functional parents even though you are on longer together.
Look After Yourself
We’ve already talked a bit about this earlier on, but it’s so important that you look after yourself so you are in the best position to take care of your kids. Maintaining a good diet and exercise can make such a big difference in both your physical and mental wellbeing. Talk about how you are feeling to close friends and family, or otherwise some people find it helpful to write everything down in a journal. Reflect on what went wrong in your relationship, but don’t beat yourself up apportioning blame. Keep up your passions or even discover new ones as a way of focusing your mind. It doesn’t mean you are being selfish if you take some time to yourself. It’s something that is absolutely necessary.
Adjust to Your New Life
After the emotional turmoil of the first few weeks and months, you will begin to adjust to your new life. As you begin to get settled into your new routines, hopefully your kids will too. It’s a good idea to keep in regular communication with your former partner so you can notify each other if anything in your lives is changing. Similarly, you will want to keep each other updated on how your kids are doing any any issues that you may need to deal with together. After some time has passed, you may find yourself wanting to form a new relationship. Before you jump into this, you should make sure your kids are aware and okay with you doing this.
Speak to the Professionals
If you or your kids are still struggling to come to terms with the breakup, try getting in touch with a professional counsellor or therapist. Even just having someone neutral to share your problems with can make such a big difference. Whether you decide to go as a family or on your own, many people find this to be a very good way of getting the closure they are looking for.
Everyone has a different way of dealing with a breakup, but you should always try to make sure your kids are well looked after and reassured during this extremely difficult time. Think about their needs but remember not to neglect your own. Until your kids are grown up, it is inevitable that you and your ex partner will be part of each other’s lives, so try to work out the best ways that you can still have a parental relationship.
Staff Writer; Annette Poole