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.