Much as you may not want to argue within sight or sound of your children, it can happen. Separation is a difficult time for everyone.
Protecting children from arguments
When I heard a friend say to their son, ‘You’re just like your dad, selfish and useless’, and I saw the little boy’s face, I realised that could be my son.
Even after your separation arguments can occur as the relationship you have with your children’s other parent changes. Grief, hurt, anger and other feelings can all make people behave in ways that they’d rather not.
In reality, you may not be able to protect your children completely from arguments or tensions. But you can let your children know that both you and their other parent still love them. You can also reassure them that any arguments they may have seen or heard aren’t their fault.
You may find the following tips to minimise the likelihood of arguments helpful:
- Keep your relationship with your children’s other parent as businesslike as possible. Limit communication to parenting issues.
- Shift conversations about the past. This avoids going over old ground or reopening old wounds.
- Learn how to manage your own feelings and reactions.
- Remember that you and your former partner may never agree on some issues. That’s quite probably why you separated in the first place.
It can help if you discuss these tips with your children’s other parent.
Protecting your children
You should also expect your children to remain neutral. Imagine the conflict it can cause if they hear you putting their other parent down or if they are asked to act as a go-between.
If an argument becomes violent this has a serious long-term effect on your children. Remember too that if your children have witnessed violence or abuse, or seen its affects, they need to know that this isn’t acceptable behaviour.
Content originally produced for What Next? The Parent’s Guide to Separation © Copyright DWP 2015
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Check your situation with our assessment tools
The process of answering the questions in each agreement builder should help you consider what outcomes are best for your children and both of you. They can form a useful starting point when discussing your situation with your ex-partner or a legal representative such as a solicitor.
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