One of the challenges of parenting after a separation is that you may have different approaches to how you want to raise your children. As Easter weekend begins, here are my top tips on managing those differences.

When I did my mediator training, I was given a list of children’s activities and I had to give the age I would allow a child in my care to do them. The activities covered everything from ‘playing out on their own’ to ‘drinking alcohol’ to ‘becoming a vegetarian’. Everyone on the course regarded themselves as ‘good’ parents, and yet the answers to these simple questions varied enormously. The exercise was a useful reminder that there are many ways to be a ‘good’ parent.

But it’s hard. And times like Easter and school summer holidays can magnify the differences.

For example, this weekend some parents will allow their children all the Easter eggs they want. Others will restrict the amount of chocolate, or may ban it altogether. Some parents will want to stick to the normal bedtimes. Others will see the holidays as an opportunity for the children to stay up a little longer and enjoy time with friends and family. Some parents will want to follow traditional Easter routines; others will treat the holiday as any other Bank Holiday.

It’s easy to get caught up in these differences and to end up in another argument – and ruin another day for the children caught in the middle.

We know that the level of conflict to which a child is exposed has an impact on how well that child copes with their parent’s separation. That’s why it is so important for us to remain polite and kind and respectful to each other. Perhaps more important than how much chocolate our children eat or how late they stay up?

It’s not easy, but if you find yourself heading down a well-trodden route to conflict this weekend, try these tips for finding a different path:

  1. Let it go! Think of the Frozen film and the song. Do you really have to fight over this one, or could you just ‘let it go’?
  1. Be flexible. If you’ve mapped out how you want the weekend arrangements to be and your ex wants something different, is there a way that you could both be flexible and give a little?
  1. Be kind and polite to your ex and their family. As Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You never know, they might be kind and polite back.
  1. Remember that we all have different parenting styles and different ways of showing our love. You might think it is wrong to give your young child an overload of chocolate, but to your ex, it might just be their way of showing your young child they are loved.

Mediation provides time and space for talking about some of these differences. To find out more about how I can help you, and to book a confidential one-to-one meeting, call 07706 513496 or email polly@abingdonfamilymediation.co.uk.


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