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Monday, April 1, 2013

When the Breakup of Your Relationship Involves Your Ex Saying Goodbye to Your Child

Relationship breakups are difficult enough even under the best of circumstances.  But they're particularly difficult when you're a single parent and you have a young child who has become emotionally attached to the person you were dating.  It's a loss for you and your ex, but it can be even more heart breaking for your child, especially if s/he spent a lot of time with your ex.
Breakups Are Even More Difficult When Children Are Involved 

Wait Until the Relationship is Solid Before Introducing Your Child
When psychotherapy clients, who are single and dating, have young children, I usually recommend that they wait until the new relationship is solid before they introduce their children to their romantic partner.

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of a new romantic relationship during the early stage of courtship and become overly optimistic about the potential longevity of the relationship.  If you introduce someone new to your child before the time is right, your child will feel the loss and, possibly a sense of abandonment, if your relationship ends.

There's no science to gauge how long you should wait.  In most cases, I would recommend that you wait a minimum of six months.  Of course, a lot depends upon the relationship and the age of your child.  And, you should be aware that even infants become attached to people with whom they spend time.

When the Breakup of Your Relationship Involves Your Ex Saying Goodbye to Your Child

Modern Love Article
In Sunday's New York Times' Modern Love column, Laurie Sandell wrote an article called "How to Break Up With a 2-Year Old" where she discusses this issue from the perspective of the ex who must say goodbye to her ex-boyfriend's child (see link below).

It's an interesting article.  I'd love to hear more from the perspective of people who have children who go through breakups like this.

Among my psychotherapy clients who have young children and who have ended relationships, generally, they feel they have a very difficult time.  Not only do they deal with their own grief about the breakup, but they must comfort their children, who often miss the ex and are too young to understand why the ex is no longer coming around.

Young children tend to be naturally egocentric and they often blame themselves if someone they care about isn't around any more.  This is generally true whether it involves a breakup or a death.  So, don't think your child is "too young" to feel hurt.

Although children can be resilient, use good judgment and err on the side of caution when you're trying to decide when to introduce your child to a new romantic partner.  And if you do have the misfortune to go through a breakup with someone your child was emotionally attached to, you need to be extra nurturing and comforting with your child.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or send me an email:  josephineolivia@aol.com

New York Times - Modern Love: How to Break Up with a 2-Year Old - by Laurie Sandell




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