Parents not Partners
Working out a new parenting relationship with your ex can be painfully difficult. Although you may feel like erasing them from your life altogether you are both still parents and therefore you will need to work out a new form of relationship.
This section of The Parent Connection will help you to understand some of the difficult issues associated with working out that new parenting relationship and how children are affected.
By understanding better why parenting after parting is so difficult and using some of the resources here hopefully you will be able keep the effect on your child (and on yourself) to a minimum.
The end of a relationship is difficult and emotional for most people and can trigger many feelings - sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, happiness or relief, guilt and shame.
All of these feelings make being a parent seem even harder. Your feelings can change rapidly, even during the course of a day, but it is important not to let these feelings spill over into your relationship with your children. Trying hard to control what you say and do can make it easier for your child to cope with how they are feeling.
The Parent Connection is not a ‘how to’ site but if you want the best for your child there are some basic principles that you should always try to keep in mind. This wont always be possible but both of you need to agree that over time you will ‘try’ to work towards these:
- Avoid blaming yourself or your partner
- Agree not to let your own past relationship issues get into the discussion
- Create some basic rules together about how best to manage meetings but be prepared to renegotiate if need be
- When discussions turn into rows stop and try again another time
- Don't use your child to pass on messages
- Focus on your child’s needs keeping things clear and to the point
- Try and plan together and be prepared to renegotiate
When you can't see eye to eye
Working out a new parenting relationship is not a one off event it is an ongoing process. You will both need to adapt and make changes as your child’s needs will change.
Some argument and disagreement is inevitable (or you would both still be together). But there are skills you can learn that can help things go more smoothly.
The Parent Connection has been developed by using research evidence on relationship breakdown and by drawing on the work and skills of mediators. Using the site should help you understand some of the common difficulties and help you to make changes to your own behaviour, but there may be times when you feel you could use the help of a third party.
This doesn't have to mean going through the courts. Family mediation could help you to negotiate your decisions and communicate better with your ex. A trained mediator's job is to act as an impartial third party, helping you to exchange information, ideas and feelings constructively.
Deciding on the best service for you depends on the main unresolved issues. Mediation can help deal with finance, separation and children, whereas conciliation (provided by some family courts) deals with issues relating to children.
You can check out the articles below for further information about how family mediation works:
- Familiy Mediation
- Before you go to court Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
- How to prepare for mediation on child related issues
- Listening to children - how familiy mediation can help
You will also find lots of useful information about family mediation on the National Family Mediation website.
Follow this link for more information on what to expect when separating