Parent separation is an important subject that is discussed lots with the rise of the modern family. You can google and read about parent’s divorce or separation until the cows come home. You will find lots of useful information about doing what is best for your child/children with regards contact arrangements and maintenance payments. But what you don’t see much, is actual accounts from parents on how the experience was for them and advice they would give themselves if they could go back. Every break-up is different, but they should all have a focus of keeping children’s best interest at heart.
Unfortunately, I experienced a pretty rough break up, but not all separations are like this. It just so happend that my ex-partner was very bitter. She used emotional black mail and various tactics which lead to upsetting our daughter unnecessarily.
On top of this, I was threatened with losing visitation/contact rights if I didn’t agree to pay more maintenance. This was even though I was paying a fee agreed by the Child Maintenance Service. My daughter was basically used as an emotional weapon against me. This was incredibly upsetting emotionally for both me a parent and my daughter. Something which shouldn’t happen.
The thing is I don’t want to delve too much into my situation, what I would like is to share some things I learnt during the process. Hopefully they will provide food for thought to someone else going through what can be a very difficult time.
How does a Parent Separation or Divorce affect our children?
A divorce or separation can be a very upsetting and emotional time for a child. It’s like the world as they know it has been turned upside down. They may feel anxious about what is going to happen in the future. They may also have feelings of shock, uncertainty and even anger. Some children even feel guilty and think of themselves as responsible for what is happening to their family life.
The situation can also have an effect on a child’s mental health. It can cause them to be more introverted and less social than usual. Their schoolwork may be affected. Concentration and focus can be lost. There are an infinite number of ways your child may be affected, the key is to keep an eye out for any changes that may occur and talk to your child.
How do we combat these effects?
In an ideal world parents need to work together and maintain a co-parenting relationship for the benefit of the children involved. No matter how upsetting the separation ordeal may be.
It’s a good idea to sit with them and listen to what they have to say or concerns they may have. We should answer any questions they may have about the situation to the best of our ability without causing more anxiety. We must reassure them that no matter what, both parents still love them and will be a part of their lives. And finally we must show them that nothing is going to change with regards the parent child relationship. For kids to see both parents working together as a team and for them to know that you’re both still working together to support them is essential for helping the process. Reassure them that what is happening with the divorce or separation isn’t their fault if they are feeling guilty.
Don’t act like children!
Parent separation can be very difficult for parents, one thing we must not do is get sucked into any arguments or bitterness, and especially not in front of our child/children. We must keep a good level of communication and maturity throughout the process and while moving on with our lives. Our children are the most important people to consider in all of this.
Remember there is help available, whether you speak with Family, friends or an organistaion it always easier with some support you. Mediation or discussing issues with a third party in a neutral environment can be a fair way to make sure any disputes are focused on protecting the children and not on hurting an ex.
One thing to do in this kind of situation is keep calm, keep your cool and have a level head. Be civil at all times. Sometimes it can be very difficult but try not be drawn into an argument. If the relationship with your Ex partner is negative and abusive or upsetting in any way, I would advise you to keep a record, maybe save any messages or forms of digital contact. Don’t get drawn into a fight, instead rise above it and take the higher ground. Remember to keep your child’s best interests at heart.
Look after yourself
It may sound silly, but men often don’t think about this. You must look after yourself during these times. Make sure you have plenty of chocolate, it helps (well, it did for me). Find yourself once again and learn to love yourself. Do not feel guilty or punish yourself because of what has happened. Worrying and blaming yourself can lead to an impact on your own mental health. I know from my own separation that my mental health took a huge hit and resulted in me suffering with anxiety and chronic depression.
If you are not feeling yourself maybe speak to your GP about the way you are feeling. There are many options out there that are here to help us.
Parent Separation Round up.
Finally, I have compiled a quick list of things we can do during or following a parent separation or divorce. These will help our children and make sure that everyone is looked after during what can be an emotionally demanding experience.
- Communicate – Communication between yourself and your ex-partner and your child/children is key. We can’t read each other’s minds and knowing what everyone involved is thinking and feeling can make all the difference.
- Keep an eye on your child/children – you know our child or children best, keep an eye on them and check if you notice anything out of the ordinary with them. Remember that strange behaviour can be a cry for help.
- Look after Yourself – Looking after oneself especially through a stressful and emotional time is very important. If our own minds aren’t right how can we expect to contribute to helping others around us.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Look into attending mediation if you find discussions and arrangements between yourself or your ex-partner are not going the way you think they should. Maybe emotions are still raw and affecting the decisions that you have to make together. Discussing these with a Trained and qualified third party mediator in a neutral environment may be best and there is no shame in this.
Are you going through a Parent Separation?
It’s important that we hear from those of you out there living it. Has this post helped you? Have you got requests or suggestions for more posts focused on Separation or Divorce?
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