This isn’t a post about divorce or ending a committed relationship. At least, not really. It is about breaking up the relationships which support you in your life, which can also be committed. It can also be dramatic and traumatic. If you’ve ever had to fire your child care provider, you know what I mean. Breaking up is hard to do.
The first difficulty is coming to accept that the relationship isn’t working. Rarely is it a thunderbolt moment. Learning that your babysitter spent the evening with earphones and FaceTime while your child sat neglected and lonely is a no-brainer – you never ever call that person again. However, it isn’t always so obvious.
It could be a million tiny details which are lost in the ocean of your days, until you can’t avoid how many clues have washed ashore. This is true in business and in life. With employees, with swimming instructors, or the camps who expect your registration form every school holiday. Gradually you may realize that the arrangement which worked so well at first just doesn’t feel the same anymore. There are mistakes, there are gaps in the information you need to feel comfortable. You don’t feel valued, you don’t feel appreciated. You have fallen out of love and it is time to break up.
How do you do it? It depends on the nature of the relationship. Breaking up with employees has certain legal and moral obligations. It is important to follow the rules, and do it with grace. It is very different when you are the customer. It is easy to just book a different PD Day camp, right? Just sign up with a new after-school program? Yes, and no.
These relationships are personal. They know your kids and they are in your neighbourhood. There is always the risk of a confrontation. Imagine finding yourself in the grocery lineup with the camp counsellor who asks “So did you have a good time at March Break?”, assuming that you vacationed south – because why else wasn’t your kid in the camp? As with all things, honesty is the best way to go. Even a vague answer which leaves them believing that you had fun in the sun has risks. Ottawa is a small enough place and there is lots of overlap and chances to look like a liar if you let misinformation stay out there.
If you need to break up, be honest, but kind. Explain that your child wants to try a different experience, meet new people, learn a new sport or skill. Or a simple “this isn’t working for us anymore” may be enough.
What is the toughest break up you’ve had to do in your life?