Going through a separation is one of the hardest things any adult can face. The only thing more difficult is raising a child as separated parents. Your split is bound to effect your children. However, if you work together with your spouse you can help create a safe and stable environment for children in a time of transition and uncertainty.
Have a Discussion
If your children are young, it may be difficult to convey the seriousness of the situation to them. However, it's critical that you are upfront and honest with your children about the state of the marriage. Plan on having a heart-to-heart with your kids. Break the news to them and answer any questions they may have about the logistics of the breakup. Reassure them that your issues as a couple have nothing to do with your love for them. Vocalize your commitment to working with your spouse to bring them up in a loving and comfortable environment.
Keep Things Familiar
A separation is a drastic change for everyone involved. Do your best to minimize the negative impact such a change will have on your child's life. If it is financially possible, keep them in the same environment. If you are forced to move, surround them with familiar items. Try keeping them in the same schools so that they are close to their friends and their support network. You need to make them feel that this one change won't send the rest of their life into upheaval.
Attend Your Children's Activities Together
Your children need both of their parents. Put aside any animosity or hurt feelings so that you are able to both be active participants in your children's lives. Go to their games or school recitals together. Attend church as a family. Show your kids that the dissolution of their marriage doesn't have to mean the dissolution of your family.
Back Each Other Up
Your children may try to test you and try to put you up against your spouse. Don't give in. Show them that you are a united front. If your spouse issues a punishment, back them up. Come up with a uniform set of rules and consequences and enforce them in your respective environments. Your children need to know that they can't just get what they want because you and your spouse aren't together. Respect each other's decisions.
If you want to make co-parenting work, you have to be willing to compromise and make some concessions. You need to be flexible about your schedule. Allow your spouse some time to get used to the new arrangement. It may take a while to work all the logistics out. Be patient and fair and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
Always Keep Your Child's Best Interest in Mind
Separation is a painful process. However, in order to successfully co-parent with your spouse, you need to put your child's comfort and well-being above your own. Keeping their best interests in mind will allow you to make good parenting decisions and will help make the separation easier to bare.