In the second of our guest blogs, in which we invite others to post their thoughts on family law issues, Rachel Tonkin of Family Lives continues the theme from our previous guest blog about putting the needs of children first when going through a divorce or separation. These tips could be invaluable reading for any parent facing divorce.
Keep to a routine
Whether you are going through a temporary separation or divorce with your partner it may all feel a bit overwhelming at the beginning. But keeping to your normal routine as much as possible with your children can help to reduce their anxiety about the changes happening in your family. Where possible, it is good for children to have continuing contact with grandparents, aunts and uncles from both sides of their family. Keeping in touch can also offer practical help as they can assist with childcare, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Manage your anger
Although you may find yourself feeling angry while going through separation or divorce, it is better for your children if you can control your anger. If your children see you behave aggressively or angrily they might think this is normal behaviour and it could have an effect on them later in life. If you find speaking to your ex difficult because it makes you angry or you end up rowing, communicate by email or letter until you feel more able to see them face to face.
Look out for anger and frustration in your children
Your children may also feel angry at the changes happening in your family. If you notice any difference in your child’s mood or behaviour, such as them being more moody or withdrawn than usual, find time to talk to them about what’s happening and to reassure them. Keeping your children involved in making decisions where possible should help to reduce their anxiety.
Plan and involve your children in contact arrangements
Add any important dates to a calendar, especially if they are staying in a different home. Get them to help you plan the calendar so they feel involved and know what’s happening when. Communicating with your ex-partner about important issues involving your child will really help too, such as knowing when your child has to revise for exams so that they can encourage them to study when they come to stay.
Planning your child’s contact with your ex-partner can be much more complicated during school holidays. If your ex-partner wants to take your children on holiday, ensure you share information such as itineraries, contact details and things like how well your children can swim or what factor sun cream they will need to help both you and your ex feel more at ease.
If you would like advice about this topic or any other family issues, call our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222.
Family Lives is a charity that has over three decades of experience in helping parents deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life, as well as a confidential helpline. Parent Channel TV has a number of very useful videos including those on Managing Anger and Family Break-up.