This is a collaborative post.
Breaking up is never easy, and when children are involved, it’s even harder. Families these days are hardly ever the nuclear families from generations past – same-sex parents are accepted as they should be, unmarried parents, one half, or both halves not being blood-related to the child – but they are all loving homes for the child to grow up in. The thing that matters is that your child has become accustomed to this way of living, with both of you in their lives. And a break up is a huge change for children, of any age, to a adjust to quickly. You are likely grieving over your lost relationship, but, as a parent, you know that you need to be there for your children – they might not even understand properly what has happened. Fortunately, this means that you have someone to go through this process with, a little human that needs you to be there for them and be strong.
It’s important that you spend time as a family, as a new unit so that you still have good memories building in these darker times. If your ex still wants to be involved in the children’s lives, and there’s nothing legally stopping it, then allow your children to have a relationship with them – just because you don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that your kid’s relationships have to suffer because of it. Take a day out or a picnic in the park. Have a home games night, invite other family members over for dinner – not only will you be spending time with your kids, but also reaffirming to them that a break up isn’t the end of fun.
Your kids are going to need to talk and express their feelings. Particularly at the pre-teen/teenage years a breakup or divorce can be world shattering. Be there for them, never shut down their feelings as insignificant. They might not want to talk to you, but to someone outside of the situation. Your lawyers, like Austin Kemp Divorce Solicitors, should be able to recommend a good family psychologist for you all to go to, or just your child to go to, to be able to talk and work through their feelings. It’s worth you seeking out this help for yourself too.
United FrontYou might have broken up kicking and screaming, loathing each other more than you have hated anything else in the world. But you are still parents. If you are sharing custody of the children, you need to present a united front when it comes to discipline, routines and rewards. These times are hard for everyone, but they will be confusing and damaging if your child doesn’t know what rules to follow. At the same time – don’t compete with each other. Don’t talk negatively about the other parent, they might have hurt you, but they didn’t hurt the children if anything the break up might have been for the children. If they are old enough, and it’s appropriate, involve your child in the custody agreements so that they feel like they have control over the situation. And work hard to be civil and respectful to each other for no other reason that you did one good thing together – and that was having your child and raising them together.