sex and relationships

What to do when your ex-partner won’t cooperate

Some ex-partners seem to want to block every attempt you make to communicate in a healthy way

Hers’s how to cope if your ex won’t cooperate

If you have an ex-partner that won’t cooperate with the children after a split, here are some tips that may help

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Unfortunately, some parents find that some-ex partners simply cannot communicate in a healthy way or walk away together. If it’s the latter, it can be very painful and difficult to understand for you and your child:

What to do when your ex-partner walks away from their child  

Sometimes it’s because that parent isn’t interested in bringing up their child, sometimes it’s because some ex-partners seem to want to block every attempt you make to communicate in a health way and it becomes too difficult to stay involved.  And sometimes it’s because they themselves have little or no positive experience of having a engaged parent themselves.

There might be very little you can do to force this issue or change matters, so the reality is that it might simply come down to you reinforcing to your child just how much they are loved. In time, explaining that sometimes people behave in ways that are hurt others will hopefully help them to understand that they have done nothing wrong, and that they needn't blame themselves.
Later on, when your child starts to ask questions it is important that you give them age appropriate information that you feel they can cope with. One way to help your children stay connected to their other parent is to create a memory book with photos of their absent parent so that your child knows what their other parent looks like and is not simply left to guess or fantasise about them.
If you can offer something just a little positive about their other parent it can help satisfy their curiosity as without anything to go on, some children can imagine that this parent is perfect and children who are overly shielded can over time begin to blame the remaining parent for the absence of their other parent.  

The overriding message you will always want to give is “Mum/Dad has chosen to move away/not be part of our lives anymore. I’m sad that s/he has chosen not to be in your life and I know that you will be sad too, but there is nothing that you, or I can do to change that. It is not your responsibility or your fault.”

How to cope when your communication with you ex keep breaking down

Sadly, not all parents can get to grips with putting their children’s needs before their own and their own anger, or guilt, can get in the way of being constructive, so think about asking your ex if they have a friend or family member who could act as a grown-up go-between. If that’s not possible, consider using a meditation service.

Even if your ex partner's behaviour becomes upsetting for your child do not be tempted to share you anger with your child. When you put down and criticise the other parent, you’re also hurting a part of them. Even if your ex-partner is trying to get them on their side do not retaliate. Just calmly explain to your child that mum and dad don’t agree on what’s best way to do things so we don’t do things the same way and leave it at that. Continue to tell then that you love them and that you’re sorry it’s a difficult time for everyone.

By maintaining a neutral position you are gifting your child with the opportunity to build (or in time rebuild) a good relationship with the other parent.     

Suzie Hayman headshot

Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator.  She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers

What to do when your ex-partner won’t cooperate