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Top 10 tips for parenting through separation
- AuthorNameeta Gujral
Sometimes navigating the muddy waters of divorce can be a frustrating and drawn out process. We are not just talking about settlements and the financials, it’s the children involved that most of our anxiety may surround. How do we ensure their lives are relatively unaffected? Please remember that every situation is different. Every divorce has its own mix of emotion and pain. Each child copes differently and every parent will go through a plethora of worry, guilt and doubt.
There is no doubt about it… parenting through separation can be an emotional and mental minefield but here are some tips to help you through the process.
1. MUM VS DAD
Whether intentional or not, if you speak badly of your ex, you are not doing you or your child any favours. Whatever the reason for the separation, they are still their parent, and for this reason, you must show respect towards them. It can be extremely hard at times but you must allow your children to form their own opinions. When helping your children or child cope with divorce this is one of the most positive things you can do.
2. LISTENING EARS
Children witnessing discontent between the two people they love is very upsetting. Whatever is being said, do not become complacent about children hearing the conversations of divorce. Whether it is arguments or a discussion over custody, they simply do not need to hear it. Even if you are having a good moan to a friend, make sure innocent ears are not in the vicinity. Hearing negativity can cause anxiety for children.
Whilst you must censor what your child hears, you must also communicate with them. If you have both decided to separate, tell your children about your separation. Plan how to do it in advance and do it in a sensitive way to leave any bitterness and resentment out. Talk to them regularly and explain what is happening but also give them the chance and time to ask questions. Children need time to prepare mentally so let them know that things will change, but you and your ex have it under control. Most importantly, let them understand it is no reflection on them and in no way their fault.
Children need to feel loved in order to thrive in all areas of life. Divorce can bring confusion and the results can leave children questioning themselves. As a parent it is your job to put their minds at ease, tell them you love them in as many different ways as you can. Pop a note in their packed lunch box telling them you love them. Serve their dinner in a love heart shape or smiley face. Be as creative or straightforward as you wish but be clear that your love is unconditional, it will make them feel stronger and cope better.
5. ROUTINES (AND NEW ONES)
Divorce can cause changes that can turn their world upside-down. The power of a good routine in a child’s life is enormous. Living between two houses can be difficult but try to continue with as many routines as possible.
Maintaining routine also means continuing to observe rules, rewards and discipline with your children. Try to resist the temptation to spoil kids during a divorce by not enforcing limits or allowing them to break rules.
6. LET THEM FEEL
Whilst separating it is important to encourage your children to speak about their emotions. Each child reacts differently but some may try to hide them as they think they may make the situation worse. What suits your child may be different but having a shoulder to cry on, a heart-to-heart, or a conversation to let them know and encourage their feelings are ok to be expressed.
7. LOOK AFTER YOU
Parental instinct wants you to protect her child, and parenting through separation will only intensify this. In order to protect and nurture you must be in a good state of mind. How can we raise our children’s spirits if you are feeling down? Children will feed on their parent’s emotions; they are their natural role models. Because of this, make sure you take time for yourself so you are better equipped mentally to care for your children.
8. FAKE IT
Parenting through separation requires honesty and respect. However, there are times when a heartfelt smile and a happy atmosphere can go a long way… even if you do not feel that way inside. There will be many hard situations, so try deep breathing or meditation or other ways to get you through it with a happy attitude. Remember children you do not have to see openly hostility for them to sense bitterness.
Co-parenting can be difficult territory so try to establish rules early on and stick to them even when the other perhaps is not. It can take effort, patience and a lot of tongue biting but it is so important to establish a routine that works long-term for everybody. Children can adapt easily to change if it is controlled and realistic.
10. GET HELP
If you find yourself struggling, help is out there. There is a great range of books to help children cope with divorce aimed at all age groups. In addition, the Internet will always help with age-appropriate websites.
If you would like to talk to someone who specialises in divorce, mediation or separation we are here to help and advise you on what best ways to tackle many of the issues raised in this article. We can offer a free 15-minute telephone appointment to discuss your situation and to see how we can help. Our office is in our Sittingbourne office but we can offer appointments in all offices or remotely via telephone call or Zoom, whichever is your preference.
Getting in touch, you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01474 546013 and speak with our team today.