Parenting is a tough job at the best of times, but what happens when two parents realise that their relationship is no longer working and make the hard decision to separate?
Although every parent wants the best for their child, it can be easy to put children’s needs second when you’re caught up in an unfamiliar web of worries about housing, money and legal issues.
It will benefit you and your child to understand that the way they deal with separation, in the short term and in the long term, depends very much on how you and your partner manage the break-up of your relationship.
However, no matter how amicable a separation, this is a very fraught time for every member of the family. Focusing on your child’s needs and best interests will help you to have a positive parting of ways.
Be open and reassuring with your child
Children thrive when they’re in a loving, secure environment so, as much as you can, tell them what is happening in an age-appropriate way.
Be honest with them but remember they don’t need to know everything about why you and your partner broke up. Some conversations are for adult ears only.
What they do need is lots of open communication. They need to know that you’re there to support them, to listen to them and to ease their worries and concerns.
Your lives are all changing but, if you can, try to minimise the practical changes. Try to keep to their usual routines as much as possible for bedtime, school and activities.
Look after your own wellbeing
It’s also important to take the time to look after yourself. You may be grieving for the loss of your relationship and you need to give yourself the headspace to deal with that.
Be kind to yourself – you’re doing the best you can for your family under very difficult circumstances.
One of the best things you can do for your child is to ensure that you never speak negatively about your former partner in their presence.
Try to establish positive lines of communication between you and your co-parent, so you can work together on providing your child with what he or she really needs during this time.