You and your spouse, ex-spouse, or significant other have just separated, divorced, or otherwise terminated your relationship. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the break-up, you may never want to have any contact with him again.
When no children are involved, moving on is much easier because you can completely sever all ties if you chose to do so. With children, however, you and your ex will always have some link to each other. Visitation or parent-time requirements may force you to see your ex once, twice, or maybe even three times a week for the necessary children- to-parent transfers.
The parent-to-parent handoff without a doubt will make it more difficult for you to move on during the early stages of the break-up when your feelings are still very raw. Even if you are otherwise faring okay, just seeing your ex or hearing his voice may cause the feelings of anger, resentment, disbelief or hurt to resurface.
For your children’s sake, it is important not to disparage your ex, to remain calm, and to try to hide the depth of your pain or anger. Your children will sense your emotions to a certain extent and will know when something is wrong. If you have young children, they may even start fearing the transfer if they continue to sense your unease.
Regardless of what you now feel towards their father, your children’s world is being turned upside down and they still love both of you. To help minimize the trauma, stress, and confusion your children will inevitably feel, it is important to make the transfer as peaceable and normal as possible.
If you find it difficult to see your ex without starting to fight or yell, then minimize the conversation to hello and goodbye, and try to send your children off with a smile. Prior to the transfer, arrange to take care of any details or necessary conversations via email or text messaging.
You can also send a note detailing instructions or conveying important information in one of their bags to help avoid the need for actual conversation. This approach will hopefully prevent the need for any questions during the transfer and prevent one of you from broaching a subject that may make the other angry.
During the earlier stages, you may be incapable of even smiling in your ex’s presence. If you truly cannot even handle saying hello and goodbye without getting into a fight or exuding anger or resentfulness, you can also try to arrange for the children to be picked up at a grandparent’s or relative’s home instead, or arrange to have a relative or friend come to your home to handle the transfer.
As time goes on, you will move on despite having to see your ex regularly. The important thing is to try to prevent any lasting damage to your children’s relationship with their father and to minimize the stress and trauma they are experiencing when everything is new and unknown for all of you.