Navigating parenting is something that is a life long journey. As they change, so do you, and the ride of learning continues until you are old and they are the ones doing the caring.
No relationship is ever completely smooth and your parenting relationship journey most likely isn’t going to be the first pain free journey on earth. If you’re recently separated, it just got even harder, but it’s not all bad news.
Here are some of the issues that I see coming up frequently after separation and divorce.
Irrespective of degree of difficulty in separation this is always a difficult time for the children and very few will get out completely unscathed. As difficult as the journey is for the children, most will ride this roller coaster with you throughout your separation and learn from your experiences. Children are wonderful at building resilience, and it’s our job to help support them through that process and to minimise the highs and lows where we can.
Often the issues for parents is a feeling of powerlessness because they are no longer always under your roof and what they are being ‘fed’ mentally, emotionally and spiritually might not be as you would like.
There are many ways to parent after separation and rather than cover them all, I’ve refined them down to three key types of parenting outcomes that I think are most common.
- Co-parent: Just as you did when you were married. This takes a great deal of positive communication between you both, but it is absolutely possible when both parents are committed to this process. Successful co parenting is founded in flexibility and so sometimes needs to have non rigid routines regarding days and times. This really is the ultimate in parenting after separation and provides the best outcomes for most children. It may or may not mean 50/50 but almost always results in confident, happy children with two loving parents in their lives.
- Parallel Parenting: Each household parents the children in a similar manner as previously. This works well when it’s possible for children to be having 50/50 time with each parent, or at least regular days/nights with each. This requires a commitment to the core values you most likely had before separation and it still requires some level of communication between you. You may have different rules in some areas, but may not necessarily communicate with each other unless their are issues arising.
- Conflicted Parenting: Each of you must accept that you will not have the same rules and boundaries. If parents choose this path it is undoubtedly conflicting for the children and may cause them to prefer the company of one parent over the other. That may well be the parent who sticks to the original household rules and routines, but there are no guarantees. Individual parenting causes confusion in children and they often feel like they need to take sides.
The best impact you can have is to be a positive role model when your children are with you. With thanks to decades of women asking men to be more involved in family life and hands on parenting, fathers are equally capable of caring for their children as mothers. For some men, taking on the household chores is something they are used to and for others it’s a learning curve, but no more than that of women who also have adjustments to make.
Regardless of where you sit in terms of confidence, I can assure you, you are capable of doing a fantastic job.
In this article I wrote about my own son and how my ex husband and I managed his upbringing and choice of homes. As things stand currently, my son is primarily with his father and my daughter is primarily with me. It works for us and it works for the kids, but our separation was harmonious and our children are now confident and happy.
I wish you all the best in your parenting journey. I’m here to support you the whole way.