How to get divorced and keep the children happy

Children under stress look to their parents to help them feel safe and secure.

Imagine a child who is afraid of the dark, or of their first day at school, or the bully in their class…. and then imagine that as they approach their fear, their parents begin a huge row about the very subject the child is anxious about. The parents start blaming each other for putting the child in a ‘dangerous’ position and arguing about the best way to resolve the problem. They shout and scream and eventually one of them walks off in anger.

How does this leave the child feeling?

And yet, this is exactly how many of us behave when our children face the frightening prospect of their family splitting up.

Of course, we don’t mean to. The most important people in the world to us are usually our children, and we want to do anything we can to provide a safe and secure environment for them. But we all do this in different ways and so sometimes parents’ desire to ‘get it right’ for their children leads them to arguments and disagreement and behaviours that make the children feel vulnerable and insecure.

 Building a lasting alliance

When parents separate, they may no longer be married, or each other’s partners, but they will always be parents to their children – and this will never change. So they need to be able to work together in order that both parents can be actively and positively involved in their children’s upbringing. This is often tricky because the very reason the relationship has broken down is that the parents can no longer communicate without an argument.

Using the old, broken relationship to work out new arrangements for the children will always be difficult. And parents may have different views on what is in the best interests of the children.

So what is happening is that two people who no longer get on, and who have differing opinions on the best outcome for their children, are being asked to come to some sort of resolution – all without fighting. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

But if that sounds like a big ask, then throw in an adversarial legal system, friends and families with their own agenda, exhaustion brought on by the conflict and then we really have a recipe for disaster!

There has to be a better way.

How to form a parental alliance

Separating parents who navigate these choppy waters well, form what is known as a new parental alliance, which allows them to work together in the best interests of their children. Alliances are successful when parents:

  1. Remember that the other parent has good intentions, even if those intentions sometimes get lost or muddled in translation
  2. Listen to each other and feel heard
  3. Have a positive regard for each other, especially in front of the children

It’s not easy to establish this new parental alliance, but it is the single most important step that parents can do for their children. It is unlikely to be established via solicitors or the courts. That is why mediation is so vital to parents who are separating.

Mediation explained

Mediators are specially trained to help parents let go of the old relationship and create the new parental alliance that will serve them and their children in the future. Mediation provides a space in which to have difficult conversations and a process through which opinions and views can be heard and understood.

The first stage of the mediation process is a confidential one-to-one meeting between the mediator and each parent. If you attend this first meeting, there is no obligation for you to continue to a joint meeting.

You can also attend a one-to-one meeting with a mediator even if you don’t think your ex will want to attend mediation. The individual meeting allows you to find out how mediation works and whether you feel it would be appropriate for you. You get a chance to tell the mediator your point of view and the mediator will help you prepare for mediation if you choose to continue. If mediation does not feel right for you, the mediator will help you consider the alternatives.

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.

 

HOW TO GET DIVORCED AND KEEP THE CHILDREN HAPPY
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