If you have children and have experienced a break up you may be wondering how to parent after the event. Breakups are frequently messy and emotional affairs, and it is often hard to be there for your kids in their hour of need, especially when you are hurting so badly yourself.
Learning how to parent through a breakup can soften the blow of the separation for your children, and surprisingly even for yourself.
So here’s out Top Ten of coping with your breakup, and how to parent your children through it!
1. Speak to Each Child Individually
While you can talk to all of them together, put some special time aside for each one individually.
2. Take into Account their Ages
Obviously younger children will have less of an understanding of what a breakup is about compared to teenagers. Try to convey the truth of what has happening in the simplest way possible, and ensure they understand.
3. Let the Know the Breakup is Not Their Fault
Kids naturally blame themselves for a breakdown in the family and wonder what they could have done to prevent it. Make sure they understand that this is between you and your ex, and they may have had a bearing on your decision, but certainly were not the root cause of the breakup.
4. Tell Them they are Unconditionally Loved by Both Parents
Children need to know that they are unconditionally loved, no matter what they do, what they say and no matter what the state of the relationship between the parents. Convey that your love for them and your partner’s love for them is not dependent on the parental relationship, and although clearly this will affect the way the parent child relationship works, it does not change how much they are loved.
5. Tell Them that They will be Informed of All Important Decisions
Kids need to know that they are in the loop, so don’t try and hide things thinking that you are protecting them. Keep them informed, even of the tough things, but do it gently and respectfully.
6. Remind Them that they are Your Joy, and You are Listening
Tell them how much you delight in them, and that you are willing to listen to them. Learning how to parent through a breakup is going to be something that develops, so listen and care for them, and even if their opinions cannot change anything, at least they feel heard.
7. Never Bad-mouth the Ex to the Kids
It is so tempting in the heat of the moment to say bad things about your ex-partner in an effort to blame them for the relationship breakdown. Avoid this at all costs, because mud thrown is ground lost. If you think they are a jerk, tell your closest friend maybe, but speaking badly of the ex places the child in a horrible position, a pawn between two fighting parents.
8. Let them Know they Can’t Change your Decision and Bring the Relationship Back
As much as you love your children, you are still responsible for making decisions about your life and your relationships. Kids may think that if they change the relationship could be restored, so make it clear that your decision is independent to anything a child might say or do.
9. Try to Keep Parenting with the Ex-partner
Breakups are never pretty, but try to keep civility and an open channel in the relationship for the children. Share your concerns and the needs of the children, and encourage your ex to learn how to parent with you, not undermine everything you do. Explain to them that the kids come first, and they should not be used as a pawn in an adult relationship game.
10. Tell Them you Need their Courage and Help
Let your children know that in this difficult time you need their help and support as much as they need yours, and that together you can work to create a new life. Encourage your children’s courage to help and face the future.
Learning how to parent during and after a breakup is a process, and every situation is individual. Despite your pain or anger at the breakup, you can still learn how to parent effectively and create a new life for yourself and your children without your former partner.