Modern parenting is a minefield at the best of times, with so many decisions to make and options for you and your kids.
Parenting your children while dealing with a toxic situation, particularly an abusive relationship, can feel almost impossible.
Identifying a toxic relationship or situation can be hard enough, but then putting your life back together and dealing with the ramifications of the experience can be even harder.
The first stage of rebuilding your life after you’ve identified a toxic relationship is either fixing it or removing yourself and your child from the situation.
Fixing a toxic relationship can be difficult and time-consuming, so for many parents, the best option is to leave and take your child away to safeguard their mental wellbeing.
Leaving a toxic relationship is very different from leaving an ordinary one, and while every situation is different, there are some ways to maximise your chances of getting your life back together and getting yourself and your child out with minimal psychological damage.
Keep reading, and we’ll explore some practical tips to help you to keep your child and yourself safe during this challenging experience.
Care For Yourself As Much As Your Child
As a parent, it’s easy to put your child’s welfare above your own. However, if you don’t look after yourself, then you’ll struggle to care for your beloved offspring. So, you need to make sure you care for yourself and take time to look after your own needs.
Where possible, try to get some time to yourself, either by getting a babysitter or possibly sending your children to stay with a relative or friend for a few days. You can then decompress and take the time you need to get yourself in the right frame of mind to move your life forward.
Make A Clean Break
While it’s always tempting to keep trying to support someone else and give a relationship another try, particularly when there’s a child involved, this approach can be incredibly dangerous. If you’re unsafe and could face physical or emotional abuse if you stay with someone, then you need to make a clean break.
Often, abusers will struggle to deal with break-ups and might want to follow you and could end up harassing you. If this occurs, then you might want to consult a lawyer. The team at National Legal Service are experts in supporting those who have to deal with abusive partners and can assist you in getting a non-molestation order. This will allow you to move on with your life without the threat of your former partner returning to threaten you.
Settle Into Your New Home
Every situation is different, but for most individuals who are leaving a toxic situation, a new home is required. While you might have to spend time in temporary accommodation in the beginning, eventually you will be able to find a new home for yourself and your child.
Having a safe and comfortable home is important for our mental and physical wellbeing, so you need to make sure that you try to settle in once you have a space to stay in for more than a few days. Consider decorating using some items that conform to your tastes or represent some hobbies or passions you have. You should also try to make the space look and feel different from where you used to live with your former partner to give yourself a visual cue that you are making a fresh start. Put time and effort into decorating and settling yourself and your family into your new home, and you will reap the rewards, as you could feel calmer and make yourself feel safer after the difficult times you’ve experienced over recent months.
Figure Out How To Talk To Your Child
Talking to a child about such a complicated situation can seem daunting. As such, you need to make a plan so that you don’t say anything that could confuse or upset them. When you’re discussing why you left your former partner, you should try to avoid being negative about them.
Instead, it would help if you tried to give your child as much information about the situation as possible without going into the distressing details. Be clear about what boundaries you have set and how you will be dealing with co-parenting, if applicable, and other issues in the future. Try to tailor your language and information to your child’s age while at the same time being as honest as possible.
Seek Professional Help
Going through the process of ending a toxic relationship and supporting your child through this experience isn’t easy, but thankfully, you don’t have to go through it alone. There are services out there that can help you to deal with domestic violence, abuse and other traits of a toxic relationship, so you can seek the help you need.
These range from lawyers to help you create a custody agreement that keeps your child safe if your ex-partner is also their parent, to therapists who can help you to deal with the issues you now face, identify future signs of abuse and cope with the myriad of emotions you have. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help; it’s not a sign of weakness, but something everyone needs. Make the most of any support you can get and find the right professionals to help you get through this situation in the best way possible.
Create A Plan For The Future
Getting yourself and your child away from an abusive situation is only the beginning of your journey. Now you need to look to the future and work out how you are going to deal with your new reality. There’s a lot to think about, so it’s important that you break it down. You don’t have to make every decision immediately, but you should try to think about them in stages. If you try to make every choice in one go, then you might find that you get overwhelmed and don’t make the right choices. So, you should break everything down and try to take it one day at a time.
Immediate needs might include finding a new job and separating your social life from the one you shared with your ex-partner. Future decisions might include how you are going to share custody, where you want to live in the long term, and how you are going to deal with the psychological impact of your former partner’s behaviour. Take the time to think about everything you will need to do, and take it in stages. This approach will make the process much more manageable and make you feel less overwhelmed by how much you have to do.
Leaving a toxic situation, particularly an abusive relationship requires a great deal of strength and hard work. While it’s never easy, and every situation is unique, this article should help you to make the right decisions for you and your beloved children. The most important thing is to support your child and your own mental wellbeing. While this experience will never be perfect, there are ways you can try to reduce the negative impact it has on your child and your own life.