Recently Olivia’s dad and I got to talking about a recent separation of a couple we both know how and how it seems to have turned really bad really quick with not both parties taking into account what is best for their children.
We are really lucky that over the years, despite a hiccup with a now long gone ex fiancée of his, we have managed to maintain a pretty decent relationship to do what is best for lil miss. Somehow we have managed it but I’ll admit it’s not always easy but we work at it everyday giving all a structure and schedule that works for us all by making sure we are open to compromise eg Christmas day alternate years, birthdays etc.
Below are some of the things I have kept in mind over the years to be able to help us achieve the relationship we have in place today. Some tips if you will, for dealing with a break up when children are involved.
Out of sight and away from little ears.
Kids hear and pick up on everything and I made it my priority to keep it all away from Olivia as much as possible. Discussions and arguments (there were and still can be a few) are kept until she isn’t around. These issues are for grown ups and kids absolutely don not need to be kept in the loop especially if things are taking a turn for the worst. You want to rip each other apart think about who might be listening, adult words for adult ears.
Don’t ignore what’s happening.
As much as you are hurting and adjusting so are they. Olivia and I had a really difficult time in the months following the break up. At only 3 she was too young to understand and acted out a lot (yes she still plays us off against each other to this day) All I could do was to be firm and understanding and make sure she knew that we still both loved her and were still friends and try to keep things to a routine and on an even keel. Even if they don’t show it children are still deeply affected regardless of their age you’re not the only one going through this.
Talking to each other, discussing and coming to an agreement with regards to access, maintenance payments and other issues is so important and so much better to be done without resorting to solicitors if possible. Regardless of your feelings towards each other you have a responsibility to do the best you can as a parent and setting some guidelines so you both you know where you stand is a must. Keeping the lines of communication open will definitely help make the transition easier all round.
As hard as it seems time does go on and establishing a routine and accepting your new situation goes a long way to helping build a new life. Wallowing only hinders progress and the chance to build a better more fulfilling new life for yourself.
DO NOT USE YOUR CHILDREN AS A MEANS TO AN END!
They are not there to be used as a weapon to hurt the other party. No reason is simply good enough, not for more money, or a a pawn in mind games, nothing. Ever.
Depending on your personal situation there are many avenues open to help you emotionally and financially. I found the Citizens Advice Bureau particularly helpful when it came to discussing things like maintenance payments, and where you stand legally for example Olivia’s dad still had full parental rights even though we never married (she does have his name) and could exercise them to refuse to let me take Olivia abroad, take her out of school during term time or move away to live in a different part of the country if I so wished.
Take all the support you are offered, I was lucky I had my family to fall back on and due to being able to stay on good terms with her dad I also had his family more than willing to help and still grateful they were never cut out of her life.