Top Tips for Separating Parent and Carers
Whether you are a parent or carer, who has or is in the process of separating, your mind, will no doubt be over flowing with questions including “how do I sort out with my ex, arrangements for the children?”
Every family is different, however in my experience, the family themselves, invariably hold the key regarding what will work.
Our specially trained Mediators have experienced many good outcomes for separating parents and their children and unfortunately, some difficult, emotional painful and stressful situations. If we remember these situations and families, it is not surprising that the research shows that family separation can have a lasting impact upon children.
There is a lot of helpful information now available to Separating Families. It is helpful to seek help and obtain information and support, as soon as possible.
If however, you are in the thick of a separation, you might be feeling overwhelmed. It is very easy for us to make decisions which are not helpful.
The emotion, stress, anxiety, frustration and pain of separation is real and is felt by everyone within the family, including children. However much you try to hide and want to protect them from it, it still exists.
The level of impact however, can be lessened in length and severity depending on HOW you, as parents, decided to deal with it.
Here are some top tips to consider:
- Expect to encounter and experience emotional outbreaks. This is normal.
- Always try to be civil and courteous, to your ex-partner. It is likely that this is what you would want and expect in return.
- Try to remember you and your ex-partner continue to be the children’s parents.
- Keep communication open, civil and polite.
- Avoid communicating if you are angry, upset, rushed or you cant give the matter your proper attention. Suggest an alternative time or give a time frame for your response.
- It can be helpful to question or reflect upon yourself and your action. Such as considering – Am I doing this for me or the children? What would work for the children? Is there an adult or another agenda here? How would I want to be treated?
- Always behave in a child centered manner
- Children have long memories and don’t forget words, behaviour (body language), tone or the feelings they felt at the time.
- Don’t expect to get it right or get it right every time. This is likely to be uncharted territory.
- Don’t make assumptions. These are almost always unhelpful. Check “is xxxx what you meant? Or have I misunderstood you?” Or “what made you say /suggest that” or “ do we have some crossed wires here”
- Don’t be influenced by others. Be careful of their motives……. this is your family and you are unique.
- Be realistic and practical about arrangements. Don’t rush them, it can be helpful to discuss how they will work in detail, try them, review them and where appropriate tweek or change them.
- Ensure you and your ex-partner have the same understanding of arrangements.
- Consider how you wish for arrangements to be reflected/ recorded/ noted down.
- Remember you are human and we ALL get things wrong sometimes. It is not a sign of weakness to say to an ex-partner “I didn’t get that quite right can we start again”. This can be powerful, and stop the circle of criticism and create space for both to be heard…. then move on.
- Consult with the children where appropriate. There is a huge difference between involving and understanding things from your Children’s perspective, and putting pressure or expecting children to take the responsibility of finding a solution. It might help to try to remember what you were like, at their age and what was most important.
- Remember that circumstances often change over time. Reviewing arrangements can avoid misunderstandings or disputes arising. It is not uncommon for parents to review or refresh plans at points in their development.
- Financial arrangements sometimes alter over time. It can be helpful to establish when this will be reviewed eg on an event occurring or annually. The Child Maintenance Service provide guidance and an online calculator which may provide a basis for discussions www.childmaintenanceservice.direct.gov.uk
Mediation can provide a safe environment to enable you to discuss and address difficulties and concerns you maybe experiencing, as a result, of your separation. Mediation is a confidential process, which is undertaken and managed by a specially trained, professional Mediator, who will remain impartial.
Despite their being independent and impartial, the Mediator will share information, with you, which you might find helpful. In some circumstances, the process can be Free. For more information on how the Mediation process works go to www.midlandsdove.co.uk.
You may also wish to seek the advice of a specialist family Solicitor, who can provide you with specialist advice. You may wish to consider instructing a Solicitor who abides by the Resolution, First for Family Law’s Code of Conduct, as they will focus on avoiding escalating any dispute or costs. For more information go to www.resolution.co.org or www.elliotmather.co.uk.
Some Solicitors also practice as Mediators, to ensure independence and impartiality it is not possible for them to act in both roles for you, so you will have to choose which of their services you want.
Get In Touch
If you are a parent seeking advice in regards to your children and family, please get in touch with our specialists mediators who are happy to answer any of your questions. Contact us by phone, email or fill in the contact form.