Successful Parental Relationship after Separation

parents arguing in front of child

A challenging topic to broach, I know, but I would like to take the opportunity to share my experiences to hopefully help any of you out there in a difficult situation. To begin with, there was no shady situations that caused the family to break apart, but that by no means meant that we weren’t both incredibly upset with so many questions bouncing about in our heads as to what happened and the effect it may have on Junior.

So after 7 years (the fateful number…), we decided that separation was for the best. That was a very distressing time. Such a big change and not one that we’d anticipated with big questions to address like who does Junior live with, what are the arrangements, where are we each going to live and how close to each other (nursery drop off/pick up etc), the financial implications, who to tell and by when. Even our Facebook status became a topic of discussion and if or when we should change our status from being married. What would the fall out of that be?

This flexibility was key to the success as it gave us both breathing space to live our own lives, continue with our work and be happy parents once again for Junior.

Our daughter was still very young but cute enough to pick up on the uncomfortable atmosphere so we set about selling  the family home. Our decision to not jump ship at the first offer we might receive drew the process out but once we’d successfully sold for an amount we both agreed upon we were then in a position to reset our lives to some extent and move forward.

Now we never married, and this certainly helped with the transition as there were no divorce proceedings to go through be they emotional or costly. I’m certainly not advocating a rule of no marriage and we honestly had no idea this would ever happen to us. I wouldn’t even entertain the thought that deep down we knew it wasn’t going to last. That just isn’t true.

Absolutely the first thing that we did was to focus on Junior followed by financials and then our own arrangements. Even location of where we were to live in relationship to each other we thought important so as to make things easier for Junior and each other.

A concern was always that when we saw each other it would reset our negative feelings towards each other keeping us in a perpetual cycle and unable to move on.

Above all else talk to each other.Talk and talk and talk. I cannot stress enough the importance of a full and frank line of communication with each other. It’s not easy, as your feelings are really at odds with wanting to engage with your now ex partner, and there were occasions when I simply couldn’t muster the energy for it. But, it really helped us in a number of ways from tackling difficult subjects over putting them off to understanding each others feelings giving us a strong understanding of what we both wanted to happen. And with this we felt confident that we wouldn’t need to enlist the assistance of any solicitors, the costs of which can easily reach into the thousands and the emotional strain of something so personal become so very formal and matter of fact that could well become part and parcel of this engagement.

With my being in full-time employment we decided Junior would stay with mum based on a flexible arrangement we agreed upon. This flexibility was key to the success as it gave us both breathing space to live our own lives, continue with our jobs and be happy parents once again for Junior.

…the upside to this is that there is a greater opportunity to engage in that conversation with Junior.

Wanting to be a huge part of Junior’s life, and being a positive role model, was always top of my list no matter what happened between myself and mum, and having previously seen parents bickering on the ‘offspring exchange’ or hearing how difficult it is with everything, both of us had a deep-rooted desire for that not to happen and for us to make it work.

We shared the usual aspects enjoyed by most families; bank accounts, joint gym membership, circle of friends, grand-parents and so on, and agreeing on resolutions to these was really cathartic helping to progress smoothly. A concern was always that when we saw each other any negative feelings towards each other would ignite, keeping us in a perpetual cycle and unable to move on with our lives.

Whatever you do, do not miss getting a card from Junior for mothers day.

Thankfully these concerns dissipated from the initial discomfort on the separation itself to the awkwardness of the first six months or so and then on to the much more amiable period from then to today. To coin a phrase, a real old rollercoaster, and using this analogy further, the feeling of relief and reward once it’s over is warming. We are now not just happy parents to Junior, but friends to each other and our extended families, together taking part in Junior’s key activities and school events. And of course, more importantly, Junior is a very happy little sole. Integrating confidently with her peers with lots of laughter and lust for life.

With that said, it is of course not without its pitfalls. There is a disconnect in some aspects of all our lives, and we haven’t made any rules whereby we each have to run off  a list of what Junior’s been up to with the other parent. Whatever you do, do not miss getting a card from Junior for mothers day. However, the upside to this is that there is a greater opportunity to engage in that conversation with Junior, and it’s certainly made me pay a lot more attention to the time spent with her and become the best dad and role model that she needs.

If you have found this post in any way advantageous to your life or someone you care about, then I thank you for taking the time to read it. And please, comment by all means.

Big Daddy

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