Treating a partner with respect and love during a break up, makes it bearable for kids.
I honestly cannot tell you how many times I sat down to write these on-air accompanying articles since they went live weeks ago. Who knew how much work a closed marina was going to be? Certainly not this girl. Please forgive the huge delay, and let’s get down to it.
Breaking up is never easy, but neither is being in and staying in a shitty relationship “for the kids.” Then when it comes time to sharing that news with your kids? Take it from a woman who has had to do it. It sucks. Like it is brutal in every way imaginable. Which is why it is imperative that parents do it in a way that is healthy, productive, and mindful. Yannick and I managed to do it when we separated. Some days it was easier to keep the kids out of the drama, and emotion of it, and other days it was damn near impossible.
Let’s face it, when a marriage breaks up there is so much emotion tied to it that there is bound to be one partner more upset than the other. Because it is incredibly rare that a break up is completely mutual, with both people at the same emotional point. If you’re in that sort of break up, God bless you for winning the break up lottery! But for most of us going through a shift in a relationship, that involves children, there is usually one partner who is taken by surprise at the decision for the other one to end things. And this is where it gets dicey and the temptation to throw the leaving partner under the bus occurs. This is the precise moment in time when parents who have children have the right support group around them to ensure that the burden of pain and heartbreak doesn’t land on the children. Besides, we must be mindful, even when we’re suffering through our own pain, hurt and anguish to remember that this is also a huge blow to your kid(s) and they’re looking to us for how to navigate through the crisis. It is incredibly difficult to do this when you’re in the middle of you own emotional breakdown, I appreciate that more than you’ll know. But this is when we can take the opportunity to teach our children how to cope with what will inevitably happen to them one day. A break up. As parents there is the truth, and sometimes burden of always having our kids eyes on us, looking to us for how to move through life. This is when we parents have to exercise restraint by biting the bullet and our tongues and recognize that this is the only way to behave during a break up.
And finally, as somebody who has “been there, done that” I cannot stress enough how helpful it is for everybody involved in a marriage break up to get support. This can be, in the event that money is tight, a free school guidance counselor who checks in with your child once a week, or if funds allow finding a great family therapist to support the entire family through the process. The unbiased, neutral insight into the family dynamics, and everybody having a safe place to go and share their thoughts, fears and sadness with helps expedite the healing process, tenfold. The other important piece of the puzzle of a family break up is space. Giving one another space to be. To be upset. To be quiet. To be angry. To be scared. To be disappointed. To just be however and whatever they are feeling on that given day without the pressure to “get over it” or to “knock it off.” Healing occurs differently for each one of us, some people may need to spend time with friends, out of the house, more than you as the parent would like to see them spending; and that’s okay. The way you process and heal will not be the same way your ex does, or the way your child(ren) do. So remember to honour them. Honour their journey through the traumatic shift in their lives, and when you do give space, and freedom to them, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your children will get to the point where they are able to acknowledge that “we’re all better off this way. Now we can all be happy.”
I heard this from the lips of our own girls when we were separated, and I’ve heard it from almost every single kid I know who’s parents have made the difficult decision to go their separate ways. So, if you break up respectfully, the family unit arriving at the point of understanding that although the ending of their family unit as they knew it was difficult, the joy of living in a home of peace and happiness was worth the pain to get there.