What's the best thing to do for my unborn child - stay or leave
Recently on the parent connection forum we received a post from a new father describing a difficult and moving story around maintaining contact with his new baby daughter after having separated from his partner before the birth: At the request of this user and to protect their anonymity, we have removed this post. However lots of other users were finding the post really helpful and so decided to publish a blog which covers some of the issues that the original post raised. We are grateful to the original user for sharing their experiences.
Becoming a parent is a difficult time for any couple: coping with all the new responsibilities can be daunting and of course the lack of sleep makes you shorter tempered and more easily upset.
In some cases the stress can be enough to pull an already-strained relationship apart, both partners can become completely overwhelmed by the realisation that their relationship is no longer the only thing at stake: now it’s the well-being of their child too, and their own individual relationship with their new baby. Some get through it but for some the pressure to make it work can become too much.
Parenting a baby or very young child with an ex-partner can be extremely challenging: it can become easier with good support and preparation, but this isn’t always an option. For example, in cases where a couple separate before the birth, it can be really hard to sit down with an ex-partner when you’re still angry at one another; one of you may not even want to do this, or be able to do so. And what if the anger and animosity between you and your ex-partner start to affect your relationship with your child? Do you stay involved for the sake of your child or walk away from a situation because it just seems too hard.
Parents feel at a loss as to what to do and so often one or both contact social services or seek legal advice only to find that it feels as though the law and those services set up to help - aren’t even on our side.
As unmarried parents it is the mother’s responsibility to determine who goes on the birth certificate so feels like she holds all the cards. But fear and the anger make people behave badly; thinking too much about their ‘rights’ as parents rather than what is best for their child. Too often mothers get territorial and stop access saying only they can take care of the child ……fathers retaliate and focus on getting even.
Unmarried couples find they do not have formal legal protection which can come as a nasty shock. So what can be done to support couples and individual parents in such situations?
As long as you do not pose a risk to your child then that child has the right to have a relationship with both of you and hard as it may be you have to try and trust the law or social services that they will trying to get it right for your child. All too often because emotions are running high and because of fear parents fight these professionals because are basing decisions on what they THINK might happen in the future rather than focussing on the here and now .Walking away rather than working at it seems like a kinder option.
But how in years to come could such a decision be justified if it hasn’t been tested.
You want to do the right thing for your child. But when children are really young however hard it is the right thing at this moment is to support your ex ….being a parent is about putting your child’s needs above your own ……keeping this in mind before speaking or acting is what it’s all about.
Mediation services can help parents to reach an amicable agreement, but both parties need to be willing to attend mediation. In some cases one or both individuals may consider it necessary to initiate legal proceedings to safeguard their rights as a parent. Most of us would consider this a last resort however, and fathers might even be tempted to walk away rather than possibly initiate years of legal wrangling when a new baby is involved. Each case is different but it can be very hard to know what’s best especially in the early days stay involved or walk away. Where can you get support in these situations? When should the law become involved?
You need to keep letting your ex know you love your child and that you want to work with them to achieve all the things you both want for your child. It will take hard work and patience and is very, very hard when a child is young and needs their mother so much. Immediately after the birth may not be possible but in time mediation could be the next step for you both. What happens in the first few months doesn’t have to dictate the next few years – give it time and maybe if you to hold on in there trust can be built between you as parents even though you are no longer partners. Be respectful as you can both play an important part in your child’s life and both are a part of their future.
These articles on the parent connection might be useful