Love, Always

How to “just be friends” with someone after a break-up: A 4-part series on one of life’s toughest dilemmas [3]

Gelb_BreakUp blog

Part three: What if kids are part of the picture?

A break-up without kids is tricky enough, on its own.

Add children into the mix, and there’s a whole ‘nother layer of complexity to deal with.

Ideally, you and your ex would be friends. That would be great role-modeling for your kids.

If friendship is not in the cards, then you both need to set aside your sore feelings so you can be civil to each other, and focus on your kids’ needs.

You don’t even need to like each other. Just be cordial and treat each other with respect. That’s what your kids need to see.

What often happens, though, is that one parent directs their anger about the break-up at the other — by behaving unfairly as a co-parent (like, not showing up for visitation or inappropriately discussing the break-up with the kids).

This irresponsible behavior typically frustrates the other parent and distresses the kids.

You can find tips for handling things when the other parent won’t play fair, here; and for raising well-adjusted kids when parents have split up, here.

But no matter what the circumstances may be — whether kids are involved or not — all of the same break-up advice applies.

You need to get clear about what you want out of this friendship + why. (Writing those ‘wants’ down, like in part one of this series.)

You need to be honest + clear about your emotions, and physically release those heavy feelings so they don’t burden you. (Safely + appropriately, like we covered in part two.)

And you need space + time, to heal. To slowly grow into the kind of friendship — or civilized, co-parenting partnership — that you both want to build.

Difficult? Yes. Possible? Often.

And with kids in the picture, you’ll have extra motivation to do what you need to do (within yourself + within your life) to build something that works.

In the fourth installment in this 4-part series, we’ll cover 2 final questions:

What if your ex is in deep pain, but you’re not? Or vice versa?

And …

Are there certain situations where it’s not even worth trying?

Click on the link below to read Part 4 of this series on how to “just be friends” after a breakup.

  1. Helpful tips, I think I know what to do now! You have no idea how useful your blogs are to me. Thank you.

  2. I was an 18-year-old when my parents divorced. The animosity between my parents that I experienced had effects that last to this day (over 40 years later!). I hope that parents who are splitting up can learn this valuable information that you’ve posted in your blog.

    • Hi Gertrude: So sorry to hear about the tough experience you had as an adult child of divorce. Fortunately, there is no emotional scar that cannot be healed. My wish for you is that today you experience many self-loving moments. :)

  3. For the longest time I couldn’t be civil to my ex. It wasn’t even about not liking her. I was just so mad at her. I learned how to manage my anger, and my kids are so much better off for that because now I can be respectful to my ex. Surprisingly, that feels good.

    • Hi Syd: That’s terrific. When negative anger is out of the picture, and respect is foremost, then yes, it does feel good. :)

  4. I have to thank my kids being in the picture. Without them I’d still be holding a grudge against my ex. My priorities helped me heal.