How to put your child before your feelings about your ex
Getting past the anger or resentment towards the other parent is one of the most important things that must take place after you have separated from your partner. To do so, you need to emotionally divorce by mourning the loss process of your previous relationship. Frequently, that means working with a therapist who understands the difficulty and painfulness of this process, as well as the importance of the task.
This is a personal experience, and the children should not be embedded in the middle of this process.
It’s one thing to be happy because you have left what you believe is a terrible relationship, but it’s another thing to mourn the loss, experience the anger, and move on. You need to get to a point where you recognize that even though your relationship did not work out, your children can and should have a relationship with their other parent. Hopefully, they will get as much out of it as humanly possible. Your children’s relationship with the other parent should be in the forefront of your thinking and decision-making, regardless of your personal feelings about your former partner.
The rules you learned in nursery school apply here: if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. If you cannot do this immediately, then I encourage you to fake it until you make it.
Consequences of pitting your children against the other parent
Involving your children in your own angst is an intentional choice. If you choose to do so, then you are intentionally inflicting additional emotional harm on your children. I consider this additional emotional harm because it is important to recognize that the children you love and brought into this world are now experiencing pain and suffering. Their parent’s marriage has fallen apart, and they are also struggling to accept their new reality.
Before you choose to involve your children in your struggles and attempt to convince them to pick sides, there are several questions you should ask yourself: Is this really what I want to do? Is this really what I want as my parental legacy? Can I suck it up and do a better job, regardless of how difficult it is to put my angst, hurt, and pain aside? Can I make sure that my children have an opportunity to get the most from the other parent?
Sometimes, you may recognize that no matter what you do, your children will not have a good relationship with their other parent. Your former partner may be a person who is not capable of treating your children properly. But even if you know that your children are going to suffer, it is important that you provide your children with the opportunity to form a relationship with that parent.
Emotionally moving beyond the loss of a marriage benefits everyone. If your former partner has not yet accomplished this task and continues to attempt to interfere in your relationship with your children, don’t fight fire with fire. Instead, you should continue to support your children’s relationship with their other parent. If you undergo a custody evaluation, your efforts to support a healthy relationship with the other parent will be recognized.