We Can Be Good Parents Even Though We Live Apart

We Can Be Good Parents Even Though We Live Apart

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
When parents decide to divorce they often spend a lot of their time trying to find the best way to handle the breakup in order to minimise its impact on their children. Sometimes parents are so concerned about their children's welfare and happiness that they will continue to live in an unsatisfactory relationship out of their desire not to disrupt their lives.
The physical implications of maybe having to move home as well as the mental and psychological impact of them perhaps becoming distanced from one parent are all serious considerations. But there can come a time when even those considerations become unworkable.
Let's look at ways we can be good parents even though we live apart:
- Telling the children about the impending breakup together is often the best way to introduce the proposed changes. Children are often aware that mummy and daddy have been unhappy and have perhaps been arguing more frequently of late. Telling them about the divorce together allows children to feel that it is a joint decision. Even if that is not the case it is more respectful of each child's relationship with both parents to allow them to feel that what is happening has been jointly agreed.
- Reassure them that they are in no way responsible for the divorce. Children sometimes feel that they have added to the tension and arguments between their parents because they behaved badly, didn't do their homework, got poor grades at school. They may feel guilty that they in some way precipitated the breakup. Reassure them that this is not the case and that both of you still love them even though you now choose to live apart. Let them know that they can contact either of you whenever they want to speak to you and that you are both accessible.
- Let hypnotherapy help with healing any lingering hurts and resentments there may be that could influence the way you deal with your ex in front of the children. Hypnotherapy can help to resolve any personal issues, improve confidence levels, deal with negative patterns of behaviour and so enable you to become more positive and optimistic about your future life.
- Support any change in living arrangements. Ensuring that the children have as smooth a transition as possible is important. There may be a requirement to move home, to live with your parents, friends or rent for a while. Ensure that both of you if possible, are involved in seeing the children settled and safe in their new home.
- Agree at the outset on ways to treat the children, so that discipline, mealtimes, bed times, sweets and treats are all dealt with in a consistent manner. Children thrive on routine. They feel safe when there is order in their lives, so not having to worry about their sports kit being ready, lunch money being there, help with their homework being readily available is all important. Perhaps agree on having a wall calendar in each home where details of what is needed and when is conscientiously filled-in for each child.
- Avoid using the children as messengers. It can be very stressful for a child to have to act as a go-between with their warring parents. They tend to worry and fret about causing upset, anger, distress, as well as be concerned at how their parents are coping. Be committed to maintaining a sufficiently civilised relationship after the divorce so that you can continue to be good parents even though you live apart.
- Be sensitive to special events and how co-parenting may at times require some flexibility and cooperation in order to support the children. Christmas, birthdays, school plays, special family events may benefit from both parents being in attendance. Accepting that these things are done with a good grace for the sake of the children is important. Equally there may be times when one parent does not have custody but would value the opportunity to see the children or perhaps has a reason to request a swap of their dates. Being flexible and sensitive allows a better co-parenting environment to flourish.
- Ensure that children have their own personal space in each home. Children like to feel that they belong, that they have their own special place in each parent's home. Maybe include them in the decoration and furnishing of their rooms. Let them feel involved, especially if they don't live there full-time. It helps them to feel settled, important and valued by their parents.
- Living apart means that at some point one parent may wish to introduce a potential new partner to the children. Being a good parent means considering the children and how they may feel about meeting a potential new mummy or daddy. Allow time to elapse after the divorce and then when someone special comes on the scene gently check if they would be okay to meet your friend. Prepare your ex in advance rather than have them discover through the children or via some other route. Many children prefer to call their parents' new friend by their christian name rather than refer to them as mummy or daddy. Allow the children to decide what name they'd be more comfortable using.
Relationship counselling can play an important role in helping a couple move forward from a breakup with dignity and consideration, especially when there are children involved. Take care to look after yourself, deal with your issues and allow yourself to heal in a positive way. Then you can continue to be a good parent even though you live apart.

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