Being Parents When You're no Longer in a Relationship
One of the trickiest things to do when a separation or divorce happens is to work out what your relationship towards each other should be like afterwards. If you don’t have children you don’t necessarily have to have any relationship with your ex. But if you’re parents, this isn’t really an option.
So what do you do? Initially, a lot will depend on how you feel about the ending of the relationship. Time is an important factor too. As you adjust to your new circumstances and the feelings begin to fade into the background things gradually get easier. But in the meantime you have to work out a way of working together as parents. This is the best thing you can do to protect your child from the negative effects of your separation. But you might wonder how you can achieve this when you were unable to work together as partners.
Parents who have been through this dilemma say that what helped was focusing on the fact that their child loves their mum and their dad. This helps them to separate their personal feelings about their ex from their child’s feelings about the other parent.
It takes practice to think of yourselves as parents and not partners - it’s hard to break out of old habits. It’s worth persevering with though and not just for your child’s benefit. This can mark the start of a healthier, more positive relationship between you and your ex, with the focus now on your child and not on each other. You can start letting go of your former relationship and the things that didn’t work for you as a couple. It can be quite liberating to realise that your relationship can change as you work towards independence from each other.
Learn to spot when you’re in ‘partner mode’. You’ll be relating to your ex as the person who made you unhappy. You’ll find yourself stuck in those old familiar arguments, with the same feelings of frustration you had when you were together. You’ll be finding it hard to find solutions to the issues that need sorting out.
Learn to spot when you are in ‘parent mode’. You’ll be thinking about things from your child’s point of view and focusing on finding solutions. You’ll be relating to your ex as your child’s mother or father. Your feelings towards him or her will be neutral; he or she doesn’t press your buttons anymore.
Follow this link for further information on what to expect when separating