If you read my blog often, you’ll know that the kids’ Dad and I separated a year ago. Our divorce is going through now, so I feel I’ve been doing some reading on how to maintain a healthy parent child relationship after divorce. In case you aren’t familiar with my family setup, let me explain…
How To Maintain a Healthy Parent Child Relationship After Divorce
When my ex husband and I separated, our son came to live with me, while our daughter opted to stay living with her Dad. So our daughter spends 11/14 nights a fortnight with her Dad, while our son spends that amount of time with me. Our 9 year old son is Autistic and has profound learning disabilities. He’s non verbal and attends a special needs school. Our 8 year old daughter is your typical 8 year old girl.
One of the things I am super grateful for regarding our separation is the way my ex husband and I have remained amicable, and both of us have the kids’ best interests at heart. We weren’t in a hurry to divorce, but our daughter was convinced that we could get back together as we were “only” separated, so we decided to bring it forward.
Keep Things Civil
While the kids’ dad and I have been amicable, I can imagine it would be hard to keep your feelings hidden, if things are less civil. That said, I think it’s essential to try to keep the kids out of the crossfire. I can imagine a child hearing all of your frustrations is going to feel the need to defend their other parent. So with that in mind, it’s definitely worth trying to keep all mentions of their other parent positive. (Or neutral, at least).
Don’t Use Kids As A Weapon
As tempting as I’m sure it can be to try to prevent your ex seeing the kids… This is likely to end badly for you. As a child, if I had been prevented from seeing my Dad… I’d have taken my anger and frustration out on my Mum. As I’m sure my own children would. So unless there is a good reason to prevent access, I’d definitely avoid that approach. Courts don’t like it when access is blocked by one parent, so you could risk losing custody if you repeatedly refuse access.
Try To Be Honest
My daughter didn’t take the news that her Dad and I were separating particularly well. When I moved out, her behaviour spiralled. I suspect she resented me for leaving, and felt abandoned. (Remember, she chose to stay living with her Dad).
After much acting out, I eventually got to the bottom of her behaviour and reassured her that our separation was nothing to do with her or her brother. I explained that we’d grown apart, wanted very different things and weren’t making each other happy any more. This conversation definitely seemed to help, and it cleared the air between my daughter and I. It has helped us to understand how to maintain a healthy parent child relationship after divorce.
Finally, make sure your children know that both parents love them and that there’s always a home for them with you – even if they don’t live with you full time.