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Guidelines for separated parents to avoid harm to their children

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children separated parents.

A divorce or separation is often hardest on the children. Most separating parents are keen to make sure that their children are protected from harm. Unfortunately, not every parent realises the impact of their own actions on the well-being of their child. In this guest blog Soila Sindiyo of, Parenting Lives lists a few behaviour and actions which can cause harm. A useful read for any parent.

One of the questions I get the most from my clients is how they can go about helping their children cope with the divorce and separation. Most parents want to know, not only how to make sure that their children are all right, but also what kind of behaviour is likely to hurt or harm them.

Here’s a list that I have put together for those parents who find themselves in this position.

Children are hurt and harmed when:

  • They are made to choose between either parent.  Please note that although it is very common and normal for children to pick sides following a divorce, it does not mean that it is ok for parents to “make” them do this.
     
  • When they are questioned about the other parent’s activities and relationships.  Allow them to tell you what they choose about their time with their other parent as they would a school trip or day at a friend’s.  Listen and be interested but avoid interrogating them.  As subtle as you try to make your questioning, they will know and they don’t like it.
     
  • Don’t make them your spy, messenger or mediator.
     
  • Promises are continually broken. If you cannot make a certain day and time, let them know in good time.  Don’t say things just to appease them knowing full well that you will not be able to carry it through.  If you don’t know or cannot do it, let them know.  Much better than letting them down.  Imagine what a child is telling themselves when you don’t turn up to see them. What message are you sending to him or her?
     
  • When you keep dropping in and out of your child’s life.  This may create a great sense of insecurity within them.  It’s better to do as much or as little as you can consistently and predictably than to be continuously unreliable and undependable.
     
  • When there’s constant conflict between the two of you. A parent I was working with, once told me how his 7-year-old son, asked him to drop him at the end of the road and he would walk to mum’s because he didn’t want to listen to the fighting anymore.
     
  • When you belittle, sully or put down your child’s other parent either within earshot of your child or in front of him/her.
     
  • When you involve them in adult matters either discussing your personal problems with them or within their earshot.  Children are not equipped to understand adult problems leave alone deal with them.
     
  • When you hold your child hostage and deny him/her a relationship with the other parent.
     
  • When you disrespect one another.

 

Guest blog by Soila Sindiyo, Parenting Lives
 

Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology, is an accredited Positive Parenting Program practitioner and a trained Family Mediator. Soila is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families.  Soila is also the founder of www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk .

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