Even with all the best intentions and effort, unions can come to the point of ending, where the family needs to separate.
The reason is irrelevant. The most important thing for everyone to keep focused on is the child’s best interest.
If there is a domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse or dependance, then the family will need help in this matter, as well as help in mediation on whether they are able to participate in parenting at this time.
If it has been established by an independent health professional, then it is in the best interest for parents to put their feelings aside and do what is best for the child.
Some parents are so hurt about the breakup of the relationship they use the child as a trophy or prize. They use the child to gain advantage over the other parent.
Sometimes the other parent may withhold money as a backlash to a separation, or as a threat to gain physical access to their child.
In some cases the parent may leave and not want to have any more contact with the
family, and walks away without a second look. This is heartbreaking for everyone involved, especially the child, who may feel rejected or at fault, which may lead to confidence and self esteem issues later on in life.
When a family unit breaks down, each parent wants to portray themselves as being in the right. Either way this is not going to repair the family, nor is it going to result in a positive movement forward.
All these feelings are completely normal in a hurtful and scary time, and sometimes it is useful to seek guidance from trusted family friends or seek community counselling.
It is also hard for the parent that holds the custody at this time, as potentially they have lost the family income, and taken on 100% care. It is also an emotionally overwhelming time where extra responsibilities may be difficult, at the same time as healing a broken heart.
It is important for both parents to have the emotional healing needed, but also to put on the parenting hat on and realising the dependant children are the most significant issue right now.
Putting personal emotions to the side, while incredibly difficult, gives the children the best outcome. If it is possible to have parental input from both parents in what way is best for you, is the most advantageous outcome for the children.
After establishing safety is not an issue, getting both the parents to have input in the daily raising of the children is the next step. Sometimes parents will have an equal 50/50 custody, others a variety of time, maybe just weekends.
Lets face it, some parents are more laid back and easier on the rules, while others like a regimental structure.
Co-operation and conversation can be very difficult in the early stages of a separation. It's also important to not let a child divide and conquer.
The child/ren can sometimes take the new parameters as being extremely difficult to navigate, with emotions churning, perhaps even putting blame onto themselves. Setting boundaries and talking to your child will give you an opportunity to get them the best outcome.
Children may behave in a range of ways during the initial separation and immediately after, while you're working out the particulars in custody arrangements. It may show in a myriad of ways, for example acting out, tantrums, lying, and incidents at school. Remember, the longer it takes to get the final details sorted for divorce, division of property and custody, the longer the time of instability for the child.
While things are erratic and unstable a child does not know how to act. Rules and boundaries will keep them safe and stable.
Some children can go back to baby talking or acting younger. Stress-related health issues and phobias may also become apparent.
It is most important to not put the other parent down or turn the child against them.
There is also the question of co-parenting when one or either of the parents has a new partner and wants to include this partner in the family unit. It can be incredibly difficult especially if they "like the new parent more”.
It can also be a difficult time for the child/ren to accept a new “parent” without feeling betrayal to the other parent. They do watch how you react in the situation and may follow your lead. Put yourself in the other parents shoes. How would you like them to treat you if you had a new partner? Would you want them to support you with the children? One would hope that both parents wish the other luck in being happy in a supportive inclusive environment so the children do not miss out.
There is nothing to say that after a separation you and your ex in time can gain or achieve a family unit that is positive for your child/ren, while having a different sort of unit it can work for everyone.
In fact maybe even better, since everyone is aware of boundaries respect patience and working together for the best for all.