Nobody likes break-ups, they are messy and heartbreaking, but sometimes they are necessary. If your relationship is no longer working, or one of you is no longer happy in the relationship, then the best thing to do is break-up.
The question is: How do you keep your breakup civilised for your children?
Break-ups can be difficult, especially if there are children involved. If you and your partner have children together then you need to think about them too during this time.
In many cases, staying together for the kids is not the right thing to do. Having a toxic relationship can be more harmful than separating for your children.
So, if you are thinking about breaking up with your significant other, here is everything you need to know about how to keep your break-up civilised for the sake of your kid’s.
Communicate openly and honestly
After deciding that parting ways would be the best decision for both of you, you should make a conscious decision and conscientious effort to communicate your pain, fears, and needs moving forward.
Honestly, it’s not an option, it is the only choice for both of you if you wish to keep your breakup as civilised as possible in front of the kids.
Communicating with each other privately will also help you avoid letting your pain and frustrations spill over onto your children. I understand, even months after, it might still be gut-wrenching to know that the love of your life is now willing to move on from you, but your children don’t have to share those feelings. Direct your thoughts and plans to the person who needs to hear them and share the responsibility of making decisions– your ex and no one else.
Having open and honest communication with your ex will also help you both transition onto a path of civil and responsible co-parenting as soon and as smoothly as possible.
Keep your emotions in check
There will be days when the fury and the devastation will knock you down on your knees. Or maybe the feeling of betrayal will surge on a random Tuesday and have you wanting to practice your son’s baseball bat on your ex’s windshield.
While these are very normal feelings and waves of overwhelming emotions can come from time to time for the next several months, you have the responsibility to rise above yourself and think of your children.
Kids are very perceptive and receptive. Allowing your children to see you in a screaming match with your ex, or bawling while helping your ex pack their belongings can subject your kids to feelings of helplessness, guilt, confusion, and can even cause anxiety, depression, and trauma for them.
Your children’s overall health and wellness should be a priority. When you are feeling overwhelmed and you feel like lashing out or letting go, decide if it’s worth it, if it’s necessary, or, if worse comes to worst, are you out of your kid’s earshot?
Maintain a routine
A civilised breakup is proven by the way you help your children remain stable and supported. Children need structure in their everyday, as they are learning to navigate life, amidst huge changes within and without.
A lot of changes and adjustments in supporting the kids may be required as you eventually deal with the circumstances of your breakup. Do not take your next steps for re-planning and scheduling lightly. Leaving the succeeding days and months loosely to fate and chance can make your children feel abandoned, out-of-place, and less worthy.
Rain, shine, or divorce, your kids still need regular rugby practice, your attendance at their recitals, Saturday trips to the shops, quarterly visits to their grandparents, weekly movie nights, and whatever they count on to keep them happy and healthy.
Get professional support
Of course neither of you are perfect, and there are countless times that both of you would much prefer to just go at each other’s necks for a battle to the death.
When communicating and compromising become too challenging for your pride or your circumstances, I suggest that you accept professional support in your lives. Think of it as creating your new “relationship” with your ex/co-parent, minus the emotional rehashing and aloneness, plus the rational and unbiased help.
Family counsellors can facilitate your communication in a private and safe environment, where both of you will be guided in processing the grief over your breakup, making decisions about your new co-parenting situation, and re-prioritising a healthy and civilised relationship for the sake of your children.
Respect your ex partner
At least in front of your kids.
I know some of you may still struggle even after YEARS when it comes to respecting someone who broke your heart, or worse, betrayed and humiliated you.
And while we can all argue all day about people deserving second chances or being irrevocably flawed, outside your relationship with your ex, they are still your children’s parent, authority figure, and primary role model.
Keep your grudges, anger, or disgust to yourself, or strictly between the two of you, with utmost confidentiality. Whatever precipitated the breakup, your kids do not need to be involved.
The only thing your children need from both of you is to see and feel that they are being raised, supported and loved by two kind, respectful, and agreeable parents.
Try your best to maintain a respectful and positive attitude towards your ex, especially when speaking and acting in front of your children.
Once you’ve gotten the children’s new routine schedule down to a science post-breakup, adhere strictly to your agreed terms regardless of how you feel about your ex on some days, and be reliable for each other as co-parents.
Do not try to sneak in spontaneous pettiness towards your ex, or passive- aggressive fighting over your children in the hopes of them favouring one parent over the other.
Throw all negativity out of the window, and work as a team in making sure that your kids’ quality of life is maintained between your two homes.
Try your best to be present together for your kids on special days, and communicate with each other regularly to make sure that you both stay aligned with your child-rearing approach and decisions. This way you also maintain cosistency in fulfilling your children’s needs as they grow up.
In your case, a successful civilised breakup’s proof is in your co-parenting pudding. Start working on having a great co-parenting relationship and strategy so you can stay successful in raising healthy and well-adjusted kids.
Conclusion: Suggestions to keep your breakup civilised for your children
Going through a breakup can be challenging, but it can be even more challenging when children are involved. It is really important to keep your breakup civilised for your children.
By following the guidelines set out in this article, you can help ensure that your children feel safe and secure during this difficult time, and that they come out of the experience feeling loved and supported by both parents.
Remember that how you handle your breakup can have a significant impact on your children’s emotional wellbeing. And, by prioritising their needs, you can help them navigate the transition peacefully and securely.