When a couple separates, they must continue to seek the best for their children. If values are respected and lived by, children can develop satisfactorily.
Divorce (or separation) is sometimes the only or the best solution to a problem between an adult couple. But it should not be forgotten that when there are children as a result of that relationship that is now broken, this solution implies the beginning of a new way of relating to them, since no one divorces from the children.
Regardless of the agreements reached by consensus or through a sentence, it is the responsibility of the parents to maintain the paternal or maternal role in the healthiest and most positive way possible, regardless of the type of custody agreed upon.
If leading a life together and being happy there can be contradictions regarding the education of children, what can happen when coexistence has been broken, love has ended and, sometimes, respect has been lost.
This article reflects on what happens to children after divorce and offers a series of tips so that, even if they have two different homes, children know that their parents still love them and try to give them the best education.
REMAKING LIFE AFTER THE BREAKUP
Every couple breakup involves a stage of mourning, a process of psychological separation that involves a series of more or less painful steps depending on the reasons for the breakup. In the end, an emotional balance must be reached that allows accepting both the separation and the new situation.
It is a difficult process but one that must be carried out, not only because personal well-being depends on it, but because it is also a requirement for the well-being of children. Only from this acceptance will it be possible to become independent people again, with new goals and vital objectives.
The little ones will appreciate that each of those homes that is set up after the separation has its own personality. If children see that their parents are happy and coherent people again, they will better adapt to living together separately with the father and with the mother.
They will also better accept the guidelines that they are indicating even if they are no longer together. However, these guidelines must have continuity in both homes, which implies an agreement between the parents regarding the education of their children, even though it has not been possible to continue living together as a couple.
IS CORDIALITY POSSIBLE?
It is evident that the relationship with the ex-partner affects the children. For this reason, although emotions are sometimes not easy to assume, it is necessary to try to reduce differences, negativity and criticism.
It is not about being necessarily “friends”, but it is about trying to maintain a cordial relationship that allows you to continue being parents despite the separation.
When that cordiality is not feasible because negative feelings, resentment or pain weigh more, it is preferable to go to a family mediator to advise in this difficult moment.
KEYS TO COPE WELL WITH THE DIFFERENCES WITH THE FORMER PARTNER
However, there are some tips to avoid the most common mistakes:
- Dialogue with the ex-partner trying to get closer positions on what is considered best for the children.
- Reach agreements that allow maintaining similar positions on the most transcendental issues for education: the tasks and responsibilities that must be carried out in each house, the importance of following good schooling, hygiene and eating habits, schedules, etc.
- Be consistent with the agreements adopted trying to maintain what has been decided in common so that children do not see contradictions and try to find allies on one side or the other in order to avoid their responsibilities.
- Do not question the authority of the other or devalue it. If you do not like something, it is better to treat it in private than to use your children as messengers.
- Do not try to ally with the son to defeat the ex-partner. The differences between adults should have been sealed by divorce. Now it’s about the little ones maintaining the respect that both parties deserve.
- Do not make the child a judge to assess who is the best in his or her role as father or mother, since he needs both.
FAMILY RECONVERSION AFTER DIVORCE
There is no easy divorce for children, whatever their age. Even many teenagers, even though they have witnessed frequent arguments, would prefer that these differences could be settled.
It is therefore incumbent on the parents to facilitate the acceptance of the family breakdown and the adaptation to the new reality, which will inevitably lead to coexistence in two different homes. As a general rule, the children will stay with the mother in their usual home, while the other home will be new to them.
The parent who moves to the new address will have to convert it into a home so that their child or children can accept it as such. But some fathers or mothers organize this new space as a single apartment in which they only include their children as someone who is passing through or visiting.
Children are as adaptable as they are insightful. That is why they will immediately perceive if they are taken into account or if they are left out.
If they consider that for one of their parents, they hardly have a place in their home, they will interpret that they are rather a hindrance and that will cause them to gradually distance themselves, not to accept their slogans and to establish comparisons with the treatment received by the other party. That will inevitably create conflict in relationships.
On the contrary, if they are taken into account, if they have a room for them, if they contribute to the decoration of the house, etc., they will see that they continue to be important in the new home and things will then be much easier for everyone.
WHAT DO CHILDREN NEED AFTER A DIVORCE?
It is not, of course, about creating two clone homes, neither physically nor emotionally or relationally.
After the separation, the parents can show themselves as different people than they were before, perhaps being more themselves. That may mean that children know different aspects of their parents. If it is done from maturity and authenticity, the children will end up valuing it as something positive, at the same time that they will be giving them a sample of personal growth and coherence.
With regard to the future of the children, the fundamental thing is that common criteria are maintained in their education, that there is agreement between the parents in the values transmitted to them, that the ex-spouses continue to respect each other as persons, that there is a dialogue between them about their children, but it is also true that they feel that they are still just as important to their parents, even though lifestyles may vary.
THE REBIRTH OF PARENTS
A large number of divorced people with children re-form a couple that in turn can bring children to the relationship. The adaptation of adults and children can have its complications but it does not have to be impossible or negative.
In general, it is positive for children to see that their parents can establish new emotional ties and that they do not remain subject to a broken relationship, unable to advance in a new life project.
To get out of this new reality, it is advisable not to be in a hurry, but rather patience. You have to allow time for all parties to get to know each other, and it will take a great deal of understanding and communication between all of them to smooth out differences.
A NEW FAMILY ORDER
Following some of these principles can facilitate the process of adaptation to the new family situation:
- Understand that the times for children and adults are different. When the children meet the new partner, the older ones have already made an important journey, so it is advisable to make the introductions with caution. It is preferable to start with informal meetings such as a snack, spending the afternoon together, going to the movies.
- Tolerate that child may reject the new partner at first, calling into question their powers and authority, and understanding that they may say: “you are not my father / mother.”
- Make the children understand that no one replaces anyone, that their parents continue to be their parents, but that the new couple will also become part of their life, as well as the children that they can contribute, even if they are not their siblings.
- Decisions about the education of children must be made by their parents but must also comply with the rules of the new family. This can be a sticking point, especially if you lived in a very permissive environment and the new family unit implies more rules or obligations for children.
- The elderly must know what their role is, no one should replace a father or mother. It’s just about taking your place in the new partner, earning trust and authority with love and patience.
- Children should be able to choose the type of relationship they establish with new partners. Obviously not his father or mother. They can therefore address them by their own name and always respecting them as persons.
- If both have children, it is not possible to pretend that they love each other as siblings: you have to allow time for them to get to know each other and not make comparisons between them. It is normal for jealousy and rivalries to appear even if they are not siblings. They will have to be tolerated and understood.
THE DANGERS OF THE DOUBLE MESSAGE
There is a double message when one of the parents is ambivalent, so that what is not right today, tomorrow is right, or what is forbidden is later tolerated.
But the double message is also given when parents systematically have conflicting ideas about some aspect of education: what one affirms, the other denies, etc.
If these contradictions go beyond education in habits and refer to values, children do not know what to expect in their own beliefs. This can negatively affect your psychological maturation.
4 KEYS TO EDUCATE AS A TEAM AFTER BREAKING UP
When parents separate, differences in parenting style can be brought out much more explicitly than when they lived together.
But do not confuse the differences in style (each father has his personality) with the differences regarding the basic principles when it comes to educating and relating to children.
Once these differences are accepted, we must think about those educational aspects that are basic for the psycho – affective development of children. In these aspects there must be a total agreement between the parents; among them it is worth highlighting:
- School commitment. It is not so much about school results, which are also important, but about the need to instill a desire to learn, to motivate interest in new things, to enforce the school institution as a source of knowledge and social relationships.
- Habits education. It is essential that coherence is maintained in the two homes regarding the tasks that the children must perform, their hygiene, schedules, etc. Wherever they reside, they must know that their behavior must be similar. It is not worth, then, that in one house you brush your teeth and in the other not, that in one you have to return at a certain time and that in the other you have no schedules.
- Respect for adults. Wherever they are, it is essential that they respect what their parents or their new partners tell them, and that no one in this group of adults questions the word of another adult in front of the children.
- Coherence between parents. Children must see that their parents communicate regularly and that everything that happens in their daily life or on the weekends is known by both, both the negative and the positive.