Conscious Uncoupling 

Since Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got divorced in 2012, it seems that conscious uncoupling has become ‘de rigueur’. Conscious uncoupling is a process popularised by Katherine Woodward Thomas which includes the philosophy that parents should separate amicably and keep up connection and communication for the sake of their children.

Here’s the thing.

This is not a new concept.

Lawyers, family mediators and psychologists have said this for years. It forms the basis of any family separation. What makes conscious uncoupling different, is the idea that there will be an active determination to keep some form of family unit together in the form of both parents sharing time together with their children regularly.

Great. Right?

Well, er no actually. Not so great.

Here are 3 reasons why conscious uncoupling is bad for you and your kids:

You don’t move on

The end of a relationship is known as a ‘separation’. Separation means the splitting of two things that were once connected. When conscious uncoupling occurs, separation isn’t always clear. This is particularly true when one party doesn’t want the separation. It’s easy for them to get carried along in the fantasy that the relationship will continue. Without clear boundaries, moving on does not occur. 

Separation is painful. Whether the separation was a joint decision or not. You have to go through the process, and the sooner you go through it, the sooner you can move forward with your life.  Conscious uncoupling can be a way of delaying the inevitable. Spending lots of time together as friends for the sake of your kids is one thing, but the truth is, lots of people use this ‘reason’ in order to keep in close contact with their ex-partner.

All is hunky-dory until, boom. One of you gets a new partner.

Then all hell breaks loose. One of you feels betrayed, angry hurt because now there is someone taking time and attention. The grieving process can then begin.

Adjusting to the role of co-parent takes time, space and practice. Allow yourself the opportunity to work through your separation.

Your kids get confused

Your separation is hard for your kids. You know that. But the greatest gift you can give them is the message that mummy and daddy are not a couple anymore.

By spending lots of time together, you confuse your children.

Children are very definite. Things are black and white.

They don’t understand grey. Help your children cope by giving them black and white, at least for a while. Let them know that they have two homes. One with mummy and one with daddy. These are separate.

Separation should bring clarity to both parties and their children. Mummy and daddy don’t live together. We are with  daddy on these days at these times and we are with mummy on these days and times gives everyone the clarity and certainty they need to adjust to a new way of living. Spending too much time together as your original family unit can blur that clarity.

It doesn’t have to last forever, and in truth, the quicker your family can move forward in it’s new form, the sooner spending time together with your children can be a reality that benefits all of you.

All is hunky-dory until, boom. One of you gets a new partner.

It doesn’t allow for a clean break

A clean break gives you and your kids clarity. Its easier for kids to cope with changes of routine when they can be sustained.

In many ways, conscious uncoupling is a great idea. You get to support your kids and co-parent them together, showing that you are united as a family in its wider sense. However, initially, a clean break allows you time and space to adjust emotionally to the emotional and physical changes in your relationship.

This doesn’t mean that your kids don’t see the parent who no longer lives at home, it means that until you have adjusted as a family to the changes, you don’t hang out together as a family.

So, when you are thinking of how to manage your separation, do what’s right for you and your family. Think about the strategies that will give you the best chance of moving forward in a way thats definite, clear and sustainable. Your children will thank you for it.