Overcoming Challenges of a Breakup When You Have Kids
Breaking up is an extremely hard thing to go through - and it’s made even harder if are living with your former partner and have kids. As well as the emotional strain, you have to go through practical issues like where each of you will live, how you will divide up your possessions and what you will tell the kids. If you are struggling to know where to begin, here is some advice to get you started.
Make a Plan
After the initial dust has settled, it’s time to start making a plan so you are both clear on the terms of your breakup. Before you get the kids involved, you will want to sort out your own living situation. You can then start planning who will be responsible for the daily needs and activities of your kids. It may be that you decide to keep routines as similar as possible so there is not too much upheaval. If you are clear from the start, the two of you will be able to put up a more united from when it comes to explaining things to the kids.
Tell the Kids
Once you have made a plan, you will probably then want to get round to explaining what is going on to the kids. They have have already worked out that something isn’t right, so this could be a starting point for the conversation. Make sure to have the talk together as a family so you put on a united front for them. Show the children that you are both in agreement, that you both love them and this is all about their future happiness. This meeting shouldn’t be about going into great detail about the breakup, though depending on how old the kids are, they may well have questions for you. Be as honest as you can, without making it seem like it is yours or your former partner’s fault.
Be Prepared for an Emotional Reaction
Once you have gotten over the hurdle of breaking the news, it’s likely that your children will have some sort of emotional reaction unless they are very young and don’t understand what’s going on. Anger, guilt and anxiety are three common reactions, particularly in older children. Be prepared to listen to your children carefully so you can deal with their worries as best you can. If they close off from you and avoid talking, try to encourage them to do so even if this leads to emotional outbursts. Like many difficult situations, avoiding the problem never really helps.
Stick to Routines
After you have sorted out the practical issues like your living situation and how possessions will be divided, you will then move on to keeping your routines as consistent as possible. In this tumultuous period of their lives, it is a good idea to give your kids continuity through their regular schedules. Even though you may not be under the same roof anymore, try to keep the same rules and expectations to avoid confusion or imbalance the relationship between you and your former partner.
Treat Your Former Partner with Respect
Kids are often very easily swayed, so you shouldn’t treat your breakup as a chance to win their affection ahead of your former partner. Even if you find it difficult to be around them, always try to remain respectful. You want to show your kids that you still remain strong parental figures, so try to avoid arguments in front of them. Try to keep the lines of communication open between you and your former partner so your kids don’t have to act like messengers going backwards and forwards between the two of you.
Follow Through with Your Plan
The first few weeks and months are likely to be the hardest as you get used to your new life. It will be the same for your kids too but they will begin to adjust over time. Maintain a stable and healthy home life as best you can and make sure your kids keep hold of as much as their old lives as possible. In the future, you may well find yourself forming new relationships, but you should always discuss these with your kids before making anything too serious.
It may be the case that either you or your kids need the support of a professional counselor or therapist. Many people find this useful so they can have an impartial person to discuss their problems with. There are plenty of services available if you think this is for you.