When two people divorce, separate or break-up, emotions often run high. It is perfectly understandable to want to “never want to speak to that person again”. But when two parents (bio or step) divorce, the break-up involves that the original family structure effectively operates out of two homes.
In short, a family structure consists of a mom, a dad and children. Remember that both parents will always stay as a parent to the child/ren – (if not biologically) then by virtue of the Constitution of our country and the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 – “The best interest of child standard”. The divorce occurs between the parents, it does not “break up” the family system and the child/ren will never divorce either parent.
Each member of a family system has a role to play and influences the stability and health of the total family system. For example, if a husband suffers from depression, the wife may need to take on more responsibilities to compensate. (Read more here.) This applies equally post divorce as well, if one of the parents loses his/her job, it will affect the family in a similar way.
Your children and the family system are negatively impacted, should you decide to follow through with your intention “never speak to that person/other parent again”, and you will most likely experience the following:
- You are acting against the best interest of your children.
- You are acting against the laws governing the ‘best interest of a child’ standard.
- You will experience constant conflict and court battles.
- You are breaking down the relationship between yourself and your children – remember that your children will (now or later) ask why you acted in this manner.
Back to basics and possible solutions:
The ideal post divorce environment to work towards includes:
- A solid routine between the two homes so that your children know when they are where. Age appropriate options like a calendar on the fridge works wonders. (Parenting Plan)
- Amicable pick-up and drop-off’s – mom and dad should be able to greet the each other with respect, even have a coffee. Many options are available if mom and/or dad cannot do this yet.
- A good communication channel to relay important child-related arrangements and information between the two homes should be in place. These include school, medical or general day-to-day vital information. Many options like notes, email, text messages are available if mom and/or dad cannot do this yet.
- No badmouthing in front of the children between the parents. The children love each parent equally and it is hurtful for the children to listen to insults.
- Accept the fact that the family system will forever exist and that it should be nurtured.
- Understand that the ‘love relationship’ you had, now changes to a parenting relationship.
- Gather as much correct information and ask for real assistance.
- Always think before speaking or acting, whether any action or word might have a positive or negative impact on your children.
- Learn to enjoy your time off (when the kids are not with you) – this is a valuable opportunity to simply relax.
- When moving into a new relationship, take your time. As tempting as it is, do not involve your children until you are very sure that you are making the correct decision. (And ensure that your new partner will be a positive role-model for your children.) Research suggests up to two years before you introduce your children.
- If you cannot communicate with the other parents yet, make use of an accredited mediator.
Posted by CoParenting