Three Stages Of Separation
August 31, 2021
Even when a family unit is not ideal, divorce and the breakup of a family is very difficult for all parties. Emotions run high and it takes a long time to sort things out. From the very first moment of separation, it is important that both parents are reasonable and clear headed and focus at all times on what is best for the children. Every separation goes through three phases, with questions that need to be answered.
Questions to answer
Where will the children be and when and how will they be supported?
There are times when both parents know and agree that they must go their own ways. In these situations there can be some degree of relief, perhaps even affection and love, and the parents work out where the children will be and when on their own.
There are times when there are major disagreements about who should have the children and when, as well as the other practical aspects of bringing children up such as their medical care, their education and how they will be supported financially. The more contentious this is the more likely that the parents will need outside intervention to work it out. There are private, public, religious, governmental, legal and court systems that can assist parents in making the transition into a separated family.
These interventions are not meant to, nor should not, be permanent. Parents should not become reliant on the legal and court systems to manage their inability to work together on behalf of their children.
Question to answer
How Do We Make It Work?
Once everyone knows where the children will be and when, and how they will be supported, mom and dad have to figure out how to co-parent as separated parents. This can be incredibly challenging and often takes some time. But the onus is on mom and dad to find their way through this process because the children can’t move on until they do.
Parenting is not a one person job. Even in a separated family, both parents should view the other parent as an equal partner in the upbringing of their children. Mothers and fathers give different, equally important, things to their sons and daughters. More than anything else, children need both of their parents actively engaged throughout their childhood to have the best chance to be successful in life.
There are interventions available to help the family reorganize, but mom and dad should not come to rely on the legal system or courts to manage their relationship. When this happens, it puts the children in a constant state of uncertainty and stress. Parents need to understand how important it is that they develop a working partnership on behalf of their shared interest – their children.
The longer the Family Reorganization and Co-parenting stages drag out the more the children are negatively impacted by the separation. The more parents focus on the negatives of the other parent, any real or perceived micro aggressions and indulge the persistent assumption of the worst intentions or actions for the other parent, the more negatively the children are impacted – go here to see some of the ways children affected.
All parents make mistakes and have their shortcomings. But when a separated mother and father become overly reliant on the legal and court systems to sort out their differences (and the systems themselves are VERY much guilty of enabling this process) it negatively impacts the children as much as, or even more than, anything either parent may do as individuals.
By committing to finding a way to collaboratively co-parent mom and dad can become happier and more able to move forward in their own lives without being burdened by a toxic relationship with the mother/father of their children. More importantly, they can allow their children the benefit of a more tranquil and healthier transition into a separated family.
Question to answer
What does it look like now?
When parents are able to establish a working partnership that results in routine without conflict they and the children begin to experience relief, are able to heal and start to evolve. It is vital that mom and dad are able to communicate in a reasonable way, be flexible and gracious toward one another so that their children can move forward.
Free from the burden of a contentious relationship with the other parent, mom and dad can figure out what their new life will become and create new, more fulfilling relationships. And along with that reaffirm their bonds with their children and fully focus on the art of parenting.
This is important because while mom and dad have to forge new lives separate from one another, the children have to adapt to their new life in a separated family. Not only do they have to live and sleep in two different places, but they have to figure out how to balance their attention between their parents and most often figure out how to accept their new partners into their world. All while figuring out life like any other child.
It is a lot, and again highlights how crucial it is that their natural parents are able to work together amicably. Even if the separation goes as well as possible the childrens’ lives are still going to be a lot more complicated than children living in intact families.
When separations become acrimonious the focus almost always is on the inability of the parents to get along. What gets lost is how much this negatively impacts the children. For the benefit of the children, once they separate parents have to develop amicable working partnerships. If they do not, everyone gets stuck and is unable to move past the pain of the separation.