How to handle your breakup if there are children involved

Dr Pam Spurr
Myleene Klass and children(Rex Features)
MSN's relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr helps you through a difficult time.
Many are shocked by the breakup between Myleene Klass and her husband Graham Quinn. Not only did they appear to have it all - a long-standing relationship, beautiful children plus bags of success - they seemed genuinely loved up.
Graham always looked the strong, protective husband and father at beautiful Myleene's side with their two children in tow.
No one can know what goes on in another couple's relationship but one thing's not in dispute: when young children are involved it makes a split doubly painful.
Here are the 10 top tips Myleene or any other parent in this situation can use to see them through -
1. Dig deep
Neither of you wins by telling your children negative things about each other. Dig deep, try sounding enthusiastic to your children when discussing seeing the other parent, etc. And wave them off happily when they're collected by your ex.
2. Get planning
Plan your access arrangements now. It causes you more stress if you let these things slide. Put all plans on email so there's an electronic trail. This makes it far less tempting for either of you to try and muck around with plans.
3. Keep them informed
Use age-appropriate information to keep your children informed. Many parents think it's best to keep everything hidden - they reckon it's for the adults. But that leaves children worried about what's going on. Let them know if you're going to be moving, etc., keeping upbeat about it. Most of all let them know they're loved by both of you!
4. Traditions give security
When everything is crumbling around your child you can help provide security by keeping some traditions going. Even the small things like 'DVD Saturday nights' give your children a sense that some things won't change. Also have fun creating 'new' traditions that naturally signal your optimism about the future.
5. They're emotional sponges
Children have incredibly good antenna for picking up unhappy vibes. In fact they're like emotional sponges absorbing how you're feeling. It's crucial that you offload anger, hurt, etc, on friends and family so that when you're around them you're not feeling so charged with negative emotions.
6. It's not a competition
Don't get into a nasty game of trying to be the 'best' parent. You know the sort of thing where you end up spoiling your child with gifts thinking they'll prefer you to your ex. This is an extremely emotionally unhealthy tactic.
7. Disasters do happen
Be prepared for 'worst-case scenarios' to happen occasionally like your ex suddenly backing out of an access plan. Of course they shouldn't do it but it happens and so prepare to be strong. Be ready to put on a brave face and carry on as if everything is okay. If you panic you generate a panic mentality in your children.
8. Get creative
It's going to be difficult when it comes to things like treats and outings as budgets will be tighter. Look online for lots of free outings available to families. Be honest with your friends and family about you and the children needing distractions from things at home. Ask if you can visit when you feel you and/or the children could do with a change of scenery. You'll undoubtedly be welcome with open arms.
9. Sex with the ex
You might find things are going really well - access visits are sorted, both of you are more relaxed and suddenly you're tempted to have sex for old time's sake. Be careful as it can be an emotional minefield - one of you gets the wrong idea and thinks you're back together. Then your children get confused by the new dynamic between you two.
10. Get help when you need it
Finally, if you two simply can't stick to access plans or treat each other civilly in front of your children you must get mediation. This shouldn't be seen as a failure but as a strength that you realise you need support with this difficult phase.
I've been there and know it is tough. Wishing you the best of luck!
For loads more advice follow Dr Pam on Twitter @drpamspurr or visit www.drpam.co.uk . You can also buy her new love and sex guide here .
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