Children and divorce – how to co-parent them through the pain
As you might expect, children often find their parent’s divorce a time of great sadness that inevitably brings a huge number of changes into their lives. They are likely to suffer a range of emotions ranging from disbelief to anxiety, anger and distress; research has shown that the first year or two after divorce can be the hardest for them as they come to terms with their new situation.
You’ll need to decide things like where the children will live, when they’ll spend time with the other parent, what arrangements to make for their education and welfare, and how to manage times like Christmas and school holidays. Agreeing workable solutions to these issues that you can both sign up to is extremely important. If these things are handled badly, then problems can lie ahead.
Seeing things from the child’s perspective
It’s often hard for children to understand why parents no longer love each other and cannot stay together. Prior to divorce or separation they may only have known a happy caring family environment. To them, it can feel as if their world has been turned upside down and they find it hard to understand why if their parents loved each other in the past this has now come to an end.
Children can sometimes think that they are to blame for the break-up of their parent’s marriage. A child’s character often changes during divorce or separation when things are not normal at home. They can be very sensitive to their emotional environment.
Talk to them about the divorce
Above all, children need to know that they will not be abandoned, physically or emotionally, by either of their parents. If possible, talk to your children together as parents, reassuring them that you can both be counted on to co-operate in making important decisions that affect their lives.
Working together for the sake of the children
Whilst it’s easy to think about the things you shouldn’t do, such as denigrate the other parent, or deny them regular contact with their child, it can be more constructive to think instead of the steps you can take together that will be beneficial to their wellbeing.
• Always be there for your children. They need to spend time with both parents and feel that both of you are taking an interest in all aspects of their lives, and are actively involved in their day-to-day routines.
• Support the other parent’s role and relationship with your children. You can do this by keeping to the co-parenting schedule you agree between you, and remaining flexible in accommodating each other wherever possible. To achieve this, you’ll need to be able to separate your previous hostilities as a couple from your ongoing co-parenting responsibilities.
• Wherever possible, maintain open communication channels with the other parent. Try to see everything through the eyes of your child. It can be very damaging for children to witness conflict between parents.
How mediation can help parents find their way
It’s a process that helps both parties address the issues that they need to agree upon, enabling them to find ways to resolve them, so that ultimately each of them can move on in their lives.
We can provide the advice, guidance and support you need if you are separating and divorcing. Our Chartered Legal Executive Advocate, Sarah Canfield, is a fully trained, expert Mediator and has a holistic approach to family and childcare issues, ensuring the best outcome for clients. She has been undertaking mediation regularly in family disputes since 2012 and is a member of Resolution and the Family Mediation Council. To find out more, call us on 0330 221 8855 or email.