Separating almost always comes at the end of a series of conflicts. To add, the separation is often brought about on the desire of only one parent. Given children, the biggest concerns for separating parents are one’s own relationship with their kids, and economic survival.
Combined, there is distress, anger, worry and fear in even the least concerning of separations. In the more challenging of separations, there can be added issues of affairs, drugs, alcohol, violence and other addictions. In the throes of separation, and depending on the intensity of distress, altercations can escalate to set off police and child protection agency involvement.
Separation therefore creates an emotional cocktail that can intoxicate and limit judgement and reasoning. Virtually everything is motivated by fear and anger.
The challenge is to maintain one’s calm and composure in the midst of this storm. It is not uncommon for parents to seek support in order to relieve their distress. Parents are cautioned though that those who they seek for relief and support may inadvertently escalate bad feelings through their own scary stories, or by advice, that although well-intended, may increase tension and conflict.
To better survive and get through this intense period, consider the following suggestions:
1. Manage your own boundaries. Be cautious about who you talk to and how much you disclose. This includes resisting telling horror stories or badmouthing the other parent (which may come back to haunt you);
2. Resist drugs or alcohol to sooth your upset. Intoxicants can undermine your judgment as well as your safety and that of your children;
3. Do not rely on legal information provided to you by the person from whom you are separating. They are in a conflict of interest with you and their information may favour their own interests.
4. Consider meditation to help manage the common stress and anxiety associated with separation.
5. If your distress interferes with your ability to take care of yourself, attend work, or take care of your children, talk to your family doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to help you through this period of time.
6. Seek counselling. Find a counsellor who has expertise specifically with separating parents.
7. Seek a consultation from a family law lawyer. The Internet doesn’t know everything. A family law lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities in your specific situation.
The goal is to get through this period without making matters worse. For that, professional help from the combination of a counsellor and family law lawyer can be the best advice ever.