Children. Minimise the Effects of Separation on Them
It goes without saying that you and your partner would want the separation not to be your children’s defining childhood memory. There are ways that you can achieve this, bearing in mind the following:
- Offer your children reassurance of your and the other parent’s love and support always. Positive encouragement about the other parent and their extended family is important also.Shielding your children from conflict. That includes no shouting, raised voices, and passive aggressive or snide comments in the house or anywhere near where your children might be present and hear.
- Children thrive on stability, structure and routine. Whilst recognizing that parents do have different parenting styles, there does need to be some degree of consistency across the two households in order for the children to cope and thrive—whether that is the routine of bedtime, homework, household chores or the like. Discuss with the other parent what are the important things.Don’t relay information about the children at handover unless it is critical. You can call the other parent ahead of handover or send a text message. The reason for this is that children don’t need to see tension between their parents or for their parents to be in conflict. Children see their parents interact at handover for about three minutes in total. Don’t let those three minutes be anything but respectful interactions. Commit with the other parent to meeting for a coffee once a fortnight or once a month to discuss things in relation to the children or perhaps send a weekly email update about what the children have been up to with photographs. This can be a good way to communicate and keep one another in the loop and updated. Yes, you might not receive a response or acknowledgment from the other parent but you’re doing your part in being an effective parent.
- Don’t undermine or bad mouth the other parent or allow anyone else to in or near the children’s presence.
- Don’t involve the children in the separation, messaging or any decision-making about whether they spend and how much time they spend with each parent.
- Make time for one on one time with each of the children. Not only will this provide quality time, but also it will give your children the opportunity to open up and share their feelings with you about things concerning them in a calm, safe space.
- Lastly, your and the other parent’s psychological wellbeing is important to minimising the impacts of separation on your children. Seeking professional support and surrounding yourselves with a supportive network is important to the children’s wellbeing at the end of the day.
Remember, children are smarter and more observational than you think. By demonstrating to them how to behave, gives them the tools on how to remain respectful, communicate and separate well together should they ever find themselves in such a situation. Forget the now and focus on the future and moving forward.
Parenting courses can offer great insight into parenting after separation and how you can best meet your children’s needs. We recommend the Circle of Security program and the ARK program run by Marymead.