It’s hard to figure out how two people that once loved each other very much end up loathing the very sight of one another. Break-ups are messy and the reasons can be various. But the break ups where children are involved are by far the murkiest. It is up to the parent to make sure that the transition is smooth and uncomplicated for the child.
It’s Not Only About You
There are parents that are still bitter from the failed relationship to the extent that they don’t allow their ex to have access to the child. This is most certainly a recipe for disaster and will more likely than not blow up in your face should the child go in search of the ‘missing’ biological parent when they grow up. The blame will lie with you for keeping them apart and your child might end upresenting you for the years and relationship with their father that they believe you stole from them. Issues of rejection and abandonment develop from this at most times. Its one thing to hate your ex, whatever your reasons, but your child still needs their parent. Being a parent requires you to make sacrifices that are beyond your own feelings and pride. There are some instances whereby the father had denied fathering the child or had asked for an abortion and they come around years later asking to see the child. It will hurt at first, yes. But think of all the joy that it would bring to your child to finally have a relationship with their father. ‘Better late than never.’
Here Today – Gone Tomorrow
Most single mothers in the movies hesitate to introduce their new beau to the child and I have always wondered why that is. They prefer to wait until they know for sure that the relationship is serious before allowing the new man into the fold. This helps to keep the child from being confused. If a child sees too many men coming through it could hinder their emotional development and their perception of you. The child has just learnt to live without the other parent and they could possibly still be trying to recover from the split. The naiveté of children allows them to believe that there is a chance for their parents to get back together and when you bring a new partner in, they could resent you for moving on from their biological parent. Some children get too attached quickly and start to use the new dad as a replacement for a father they didn’t have only for him to leave again. This may leave the child emotionally damaged.
Ask First…And Listen
Once you have introduced your child to your steady partner further complications may arise. All the child knows is that they now have two fathers. We are operating under the assumption that the biological dad is still in the picture. It puts you under a lot of pressure to make the new man feel welcome and to build a family but on the other hand what is your child going through? Constant open and honest communication is required between you and your child. Children don’t lie very well. You will always know how they genuinely feel about a certain issue but only if you ask. Some parents make autonomous decisions on behalf of their children under the guise that they are doing what’s best but we need to bear in mind that children are impressionable and able to make their own decisions and formulate their own opinions.
5 things you could do to manage your situation.
1. Have a conversation with your child about your break up with their father and allow them to ask questions so that they really understand the situation.
2. Make sure the new man is father material and that he is ready to be a step-dad before throwing him in the deep end.
3. Don’t make decisions that affect your child on your own without consulting them first.
4. Do all you can to mend the relationship between your child and their estranged father. Keep communication channels open for the rogue fathers that are in absentia.
5. Constantly reassure the child that they are loved.
By: Thembi Terry Zulu