Separation – The Importance of Remaining Positive
Parenting Article No. 36
ife is about growth and change. How we respond to events as individuals will have a major impact on the quality of life our children experience and the values they embrace. It is both possible and desirable for parents who have separated to remain as positive influences in the lives of their children. In the best interests of all concerned it makes sense to adopt a positive attitude when relationships end.
To remain positive will at times be difficult, particularly in the face of distrust, pain and hostility. Trust can be earned again, pain will lessen over time and the energy it takes to prolong hostility can be re-channelled into the establishment and maintenance of relationships that have the children as the focus. Even when one parent is stuck in destructive patterns, the other parent can still get on with the job of raising children in a caring and safe environment.
In the past, many people experienced separation as a major traumatic event with legal battles and emotional scarring. More often these days, the starting point seems to be discussion between parents about the full range of possibilities for reorganisation of the family. Factors to consider include changing employment patterns, greater involvement by fathers in caring for their children from birth, increased recognition of the importance of a father’s contribution to children’s lives and the growing number of single-parent families headed by fathers. Thus, more parents seem to be opting for shared parenting on an equal basis.
Once the reality of separation has become clear, it is possible to achieve a dignified detachment from the past. To accept the current circumstances is an important step in getting on with your life, so that your children can get on with theirs. They will grow and their needs will change. Issues will arise that affect the way their contact with you and the other parent is managed. These issues are ideally best dealt with together. It is important to keep in mind that biological origins are an important part of many people’s sense of identity. If your children witness you and their other parent relating to each other in a respectful and productive manner, chances are they will enjoy good relationships with you both.
Whilst the myriad of complex issues may seem overwhelming, there are many helpful resources available. For example, many of the ideas in this short article come from the book Parenting After Separation – Making the Most of Family Changes by Jill Burrett. This and many other useful publications are widely available and the local library is a good source of material.
Most regional centres have a Parenting Service that responds to requests for group activities. For example, recently in the Geelong area a series of sessions was held for parents who have separated. Participants reported that the opportunity to discuss their situations with others in the same boat was invaluable. Counselling is often an avenue for help that proves to be enormously beneficial.
A practical tool entitled Me and My Kids – Parenting From A Distance is available from the Child Support Agency’s website www.csa.gov.au. It is loaded with advice and ideas that will help to build stronger relationships with your children, and how to communicate effectively with the other parent about the children.
For a complete list of Regional Parenting Service articles go to the City of Greater Geelong website www.geelongaustralia.com.au/community/family/services/article/8cbc84b53070368.aspx