Checklist: Protect Your Child from Effects of Separation
The breakdown of a relationship can be tough for both you and your ex, but separation can have devastating effects on your children, too. As their dad, you can make choices to help them adjust to their new routine and to limit the effects of your separation. Here is a checklist of the ways to protect your loved ones.
1. Never Argue in Front of your ChildNo one ever said that getting on with your ex would be easy but the worst thing you can do is Argue In Front Of Your Child. Your child is dealing with their own emotions and having to see two people they care about acting aggressively towards each other can do a lot of damage. They will feel upset and may think that they are responsible for their parents arguing. It is best that any confrontation is in private and that any time together is harmonious to help the transition be as smooth as possible.
2. Keep Communicating with your Child’s MumContacting your child’s mother in a calming manner, making it clear that you want what is best for your child and being understanding and accommodating to their point of view will create better relationships between you and your child, as well as the child’s mother. If you struggle to have face-to-face contact, try using the phone, text, email or Skype. Skype, or other forms of video calling, are also a great way of seeing and speaking to your children if you cannot see them regularly.
3. Try to Agree How your Child will be Brought upA lot of parents argue about the small things in life, which in the grand scale of things, doesn’t really matter. If you can agree on the really important developments in your child’s life, you can feel more secure in the fact that your child is in the best possible position. Remember, the important person in the equation is your child, and by compromising, your child will benefit. You should both trust that your ex will be equally as good a parent as you.
4. Keep your PromisesNever let your child down. If you want to be an active part of your child’s life, and a positive role model, you must stick to your word. If you always do what you say you will do and be where you say you will be, this will keep certainty in your child’s life. It will also help you to maintain a good relationship with the other parent, as they need to be able to trust you like you need to be able to trust them.
5. Be FlexibleIt may be that you have a court order detailing your ‘times’ of contact and it can be very infuriating if your ex wants to change any of the details from one week to the next. But remember, life does throw us curveballs and as a main caregiver, you always need to remain flexible and be there for your child. Even if your ex doesn’t have a good reason for Changing Contact Arrangements, the more time you get to spend with your child, the better.
6. Respect your Ex’s Relationship with your ChildDo not use the children against their mum or encourage them to take sides. As you want to maintain a good relationship with your child, so does their mum. However much you disagree with your ex, your child will undoubtedly love them as much as they love you. If you try to score points against the other parent, you will find yourself losing out as your child learns to make their own decisions.
7. Make sure that your Children are Provided forAs you separate from a household to two separate providers, both of you may become poorer financially than you were together. Try to ensure that your child’s standard of living doesn’t change between households, so it creates a stable environment for them. If your ex is struggling to provide for your child, help them. You know this is for your child’s benefit at the end of the day. Seek advice on benefits if necessary (see our article on Benefits System and Shared Parenting on this site).
8. Get your Child to Open up and Talk about How they FeelChildren are easily affected but can just as easily hide their feelings. Let them know that it is okay for them to be upset and get them to talk to you about how they feel. If they struggle to open up face to face, suggest drawing or writing feelings down in a diary.
9. Don’t give up!However hard it is, never give up! If you are struggling to get some co-operation from your ex, you should still fight. You child can either remember being let down or being without a dad, or they can remember all the good times they have with their mother AND father. Remember to seek advice if you need it and remember that you are not alone.
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