Parenting After Separation - How to Ease the Transition for the Kids
We understand that separating from your partner is hard. Even if it is an amicable separation, the process is difficult and can be very stressful. When you have children, you have the added pressure of trying to function as a parent in the midst of your grief, loss or anger surrounding the breakdown of your relationship.
Most parents will try to protect their children from conflict, following a separation, but sometimes emotions take over. It is well documented that prolonged exposure to conflict has a negative impact on a child’s wellbeing and development. Following a separation, children are exposed to a number of different emotions, and it is likely that they will seek reassurance, and will look for stability and security.
We recommend that, as early as possible you try to reach an agreement about the arrangements for the children. If you do not establish what the arrangements are regarding the care of the children, it leaves room for disagreement and conflict.
You are able to formalise the arrangements by way of a Parenting Plan or by Consent Orders and the benefit is that each parent will know what the arrangements are, and the children will be provided with a routine, so they will understand which parent they are spending time with and when. This is important as it will provide them with stability and structure.
We are able to help you to formalise the arrangements for your children.
We also recommend these practical tips, to help you to achieve this seemingly impossible balance:-
Choose respect at all times
The most important part of establishing and maintaining a co-parenting alliance is by choosing to communicate in a respectful way at all times. At no time is it helpful or appropriate to resort to aggressive or abusive behaviour, no matter how angry you might feel. If you feel tensions mounting, try writing your thoughts down before making the phone call or meeting up with the other parent.
You may benefit from seeking Counselling to work through any lingering negative emotions and to implement some coping strategies. Some Counsellors or Psychologists will also be able to provide parenting support and will assist you to manage the transition and help with any challenging behaviours. Sometimes, Family Therapy involving the children and the parents may be an option, worth exploring.
Coping strategies for yourself
You need to look after yourself. Whether that is through Counselling, practicing self-care or setting time aside to do things you enjoy to release stress. It is important to ensure that you are doing things to process the negative emotions, so that they don’t build up. Eating well, exercising and resting will also help to keep your mind and body healthy.
Remain child focused:
When interacting with the other parent, keep in mind what the children might be seeing, hearing and experiencing. If it is stressful and evokes an emotional response from you, it is likely that they will be aware of that. Be motivated by the needs of the children to help you to create a calm and co-operative parenting relationship.
Walk in the shoes of the children
Cast yourself back to when you were their age. Imagine that you are experiencing your parents separating and ask yourself, how might you be feeling? What might you need to feel more secure? Where can you turn if you need time out? Then consider how you would answer these questions for your children and do your best to provide them with the support they need. This will likely vary, depending on the age of your children, and their understanding of the situation
What are your co-parenting goals?
Every single relationship is different. Be kind to yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or the other parent. Importantly, try not to compare your situation to someone else’s. Think about the type of relationship you want to have with the other parent, and, how you can achieve that. Keep your goals simple and realistic.
Get some legal assistance
Following a separation it can be difficult to think too far ahead and sometimes arrangements need to be tested, to know if they can work. We can guide you through your options and help you to reach an agreement, which will reduce the potential for conflict.
If you are at all unsure of your options, or would like assistance to negotiate the parenting arrangements for your children, we are able to provide you with advice, help you achieve your co-parenting goals.