Today's sitcoms and movies on TV often mimick reality with respect to familiar plots and situations. Breakups is one of those issues; and post breakup cleaning house is very much a reality for most people. Hard to undergo, especially when children are concerned; when a breakup happens there are photos, gifts, possessions, furniture, pets, and a huge amount of emotional responses to deal with. While parents can usually deal with a break up or divorce over time, children on the other hand may only see that parent or friend won't be around anymore. Depending on age and level of maturity some may be to young to understand. Figuring out what and how to tell your kids is not easy. Here are some suggestions.
Explaining To the Kids
The breakup aftermath, and expecially one with cohabitation presents it's own set of issues. One may want to simply remove anything that serves as a reminder of that person. Regardless of the reasons for it to have happened, a fresh start seems clear. One may not see the reminders of the past and make it easier to move forward. Obviously it’s reasonable that you’d want to begin anew. Dr. Cheryl Fraser at the Huffington Post made some resounding quotes to address these delicate issues.
“It’s always important to get rid of your ex’s stuff because if you’ve got it hanging around, you’re still psychologically clinging onto the past. By getting rid of it, you create space for now, either for the relationship you’re currently in, or to get into another relationship without hanging onto what used to be.”
In spite of this attitude, there may still be a roadblock to your cleaning house plans. Children being a big deal. Age and feelings for that person who is no longer around must be a priority. In the mind of a child, age is critical to adjusting the right amount of explanation and removal of rememberances from a home. Reconconciliation may still be their hope. Removal of personal items that belonged to that person who left is final and a child will be emotional about it.
One On One Communication
To make sure a child has the right understanding about a breakup, it is extremely important that you sit down with your child before the cleaning process begins. You must find a way to convey to your children several things. First, how much it hurts you so you know they are upset as well. Explain that removal of "things" has no bearing on a parents status in their life. The other parent will always be their parent. Even if they do not live in the home, seeing the difference between a person and their possessions is a life lesson to learn.
Dealing With What’s Left Behind
In an amicable breakup, please arrange a time and a place to meet with your ex in order to return their personal things. How you respond to the situation will play a serious leadership role for your children. While you probably don't need to take them with you, just due to how emotional it could be for them, it is best to choose a time that is not during visitation. If they live in another city, mailing is an option, and if it is still to painful for you to see that person, maybe ask a close friend to drop off these items on your behalf.
When return of these items is not an option, donating is a great way to go. Using this as an educational opportunity for your kids can also teach them a valuable lesson about giving still-usable items to people less fortunate. Remember to insure those itmes are in good condition, and you could even ask your children if they want to contribute any toys that they no longer play with, which may help clarify the possessions vs person issue...
If you have the option of selling these belongings, a garage sale is a fun way to dress up the purging process. Making it a part of spring cleaning is a good thingtoo, and has an added benefit; itmakes some extra cash on the side as well. If this is your best options for the kids sake, then scour your household for other items to include with the donation. That way the focus isn’t exclusively on your ex’s things, and invite your kids to help out with the selling process. Big ticket valued items like furniture, jewelry, TV's, extra vehicles, or property, sales with appropriate vendors is fine. Perhaps the children want to have some of these items as a keepsake for remembrance sake. That could be a great way to provide something of great meaning for your kids for all their lives.
Remember removing all your ex's things is a general immediate reaction when a breakup happens, be aware the process is usually more complicated where children are involved. Civil, sympathetic, and non emotional healthy responses with your kids will help them deal with it. Respect of others even in critical emothional issues will be another life lesson to learn for all involved.
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