September can feel like the start of a New Year. Many of us will have waved our children off for their first day in their a school year, all attired in smart new uniform – recording these moments with obligatory photos.
It can be an emotional time and in my work as a collaborative family lawyer and mediator, I see a number other issues parents are struggling with when separating or divorcing:
"He's never taken that much of an interest before, but now he wants the children to spend half their time with him"
"She's only three; I'm her mum and she's never been away from me for even 24 hours"
"My teenage son won't speak to his dad because of what he's done in breaking our marriage"
Children at all ages will be affected differently by their parents' separation. How they are impacted depends very much on how the parents behave; whether they can continue to cooperate and co-parent despite the changes in their relationship. If children are protected from conflict they are more likely to survive and indeed thrive in their new post- separation family.
How can that be done? Here's a quick three point strategy to remember:
- Talk! Not at all easy but it has to be done. As parents, agree where the children will spend their time (week to week and during school holidays) in advance and take time to review.
- Don’t talk! …badly about the other parent to the children. It’s still their Mum or Dad. Keep frustrations out of their earshot.
- Listen! The old saying ‘children should be seen and not heard’ is a thing of the past. Your children will be anxious and have ideas of their own. It's so important that you take time to hear them. It doesn't make them decision-makers but does make them part of the process.
And if that is impossible to do yourself, then get the right help. All of Berwins’ family lawyers are collaboratively trained. I also work as a mediator and am qualified to consult directly with children as part of the mediation process. I’ve undertaken extensive training in parenting within separation and I can help you find solutions that will take your family forward for a much more peaceful existence. You don't have to sit and struggle with miserable arguments via text or social media. Come and sort it out with us and get this new term off to a good start.
Berwins’ legal expert Sarah Smith is Yorkshire’s only ‘Eminent Practitioner’ in Family Law.