Fathering After Separation

In a perfect world I suppose every relationship would remain intact til death do us part.  However, the reality is that sometimes relationships don’t last and families find themselves needing to adapt to separation, divorce and other changes.  If this is you, here are some thoughts about adjusting:

Grief and Loss

For some people it may be a relief when the marriage finally ends, but for others it’s like being hit with a pile of bricks. You may feel a profound sense of loss — loss of a partner, loss of a former life, loss of time with children. Some fathers go through various stages of shock, denial, confusion and sadness as they come to terms with their situation. These are deep and painful feelings and it will take some time to get through them. That’s normal.

Stress

Even if you have had a relatively “easy” separation, you’re going through a big change right now and big change is stressful. Your stress may be emotional, financial or it may just be that the practical details of your life have become more complicated. All this can affect your interactions with your kids. So look after yourself, particularly when you are not with them. Eating properly and getting enough rest and exercise are good ways to start dealing with stress. It may also help to sit down and list some of the aspects of your life that are causing stress. You won’t be able to eliminate all of them (or even most of them) but you may see a way to reduce some of the demands on your life. By looking after your stress you’re doing a favour to your children.

Fear

Newly separated fathers often feel very uncertain about the future. “Will I be able to meet my increased financial commitments? Will I be able to be the kind of father I dreamed of being? Will I lose contact with my children?” Dealing with these fears will also take time.

Anger

It is normal to be angry after a separation. You may blame your partner. She may blame you as well. The important thing is what you do with that anger. In particular, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure that it affects your children as little as possible.

More thoughts next time . . .

Find out more by downloading Full-time Dad, Part-time Kids here.

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