One of the hardest things to do in the context of a separation is remaining positive with your former partner. This is especially so if the circumstances of your separation are hurtful or acrimonious. However, despite those circumstances, many couples will still have to continue parenting children.
Children very often see what is going on as their parents separate and will be struggling with their own emotions as they adapt to big changes in their lives. Some children may not understand what is happening or why.
It is important that, wherever possible, both parents work together to provide normalcy and support for their children as these changes take place. It is also important that neither parent involves any child in their conflicts or denigrates the other parent to, or in the presence of, a child.
Here are some tips and guidelines on staying positive in your parenting, during and after separation:
- Consider undergoing counselling or speaking with your doctor if you are finding the separation difficult to deal with. It is entirely natural to feel a range of emotions upon separation, including sadness, anger or disappointment. It is important that you address these feelings and your emotional wellbeing, so that you can also look after your children’s;
- Consider the same for your children. They may benefit from speaking with somebody about the changes they are experiencing and how they are feeling about those changes. Speak with local counsellors and your children’s school for support and feedback. Keep your former partner involved in this process so that they too can give your child all the support they need;
- Try to develop a business-like relationship with your former-partner. You both have the same goal; and that is to care for your children and resolve your differences as effectively as possible. Try to work together with your former partner to meet those goals;
- Remember that you will have to continue being in each other’s lives for a long time. Strive for a healthy co-parent relationship, so that you can easily manage your children’s needs together;
- If you are finding communication to be very difficult, use a communication book. This can be a small notepad that travels with the children during their times with the other parent. You can make entries into this notebook about the children’s care, keeping the other party informed without any prolonged personal contact;
- Consider attending family counselling altogether. A family counselling program can help open the channels of communication and mend any bonds that have been broken with separation; and
- Consider attending a program such as “Mums and Dads Forever”. Mums and Dads Forever is a short course that both or either parent can take to teach them skills on co-parenting after separation and maintaining a healthy relationship with your former-partner. For more about Mums and Dads Forever, contact Anglicare on (08) 9263 2000.
Finally, you may wish to also utilise local support networks, your friends and family, and any church or community groups available to you to help you through this time and keep positive with your former-partner after separation.