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It may feel very raw, bitter and acrimonious during separation but remembering two important things when a child is involved will help get you through, and the result will be a much happier child - and parents will be happier too.
First things first - your child loves Mum and Dad. Always has done, and always will do. The big word here is “and”. It’s not a competition for affection! Your child loves you both - more than anything in the world!
The second thing is time, or more importantly a child’s concept of time. It works like this. Remember how, when you were little, the summer holidays seemed like this never ending vast expanse of time.
Now as an adult, a two week break feels like it’s over barely before it has begun. We have different perceptions of time depending on our age. So a two year acrimonious separation battle, for a ten year old is actually 20% of their life as they know it.
To a 30 year old parent that would feel like 6 years! So you need to start a new different relationship with your ex, based on being a responsible parent, sooner rather than later.
No matter how hopeless or useless it feels right now, the key is taking some action and moving on the mindset from the personal to a respectful parent relationship – and doing so quickly whilst transitioning through the separation or divorce process to your new life beyond.
Taking the first step may seem daunting but help is at hand! Families come to me through solicitors, referred by courts and so on. All too often matters have escalated and there is some sort of deadlock. Communication is non-existent.
Respect has long gone and it’s difficult to just be in the same room together. But remember – your child loves Mum and Dad and needs you both. There are countless professional reports that clearly show how beneficial it is for there to be two parents involved – even when they are apart. That’s why we created the Parenting Apart Programme.
Once parents ask for our help it typically takes just 5 weeks for us to be able to turn this around, and help support parents to gain the tools they need to build a new parent working relationship and mutual respect for each other as parents of the child.
And when this happens the results are dramatic. It’s about re-educating parents to a new way of being, learning how to talk to each other again, and being great role models by setting positive examples to the children.
But it does take hard work and dedication. We invite Mum and Dad separately first to allow them to talk about how they are feeling and what has happened and where they wish to be.
We help parents take those practical first steps, set some new standards and over the course of the programme and support the parents to compile and agree their own “parent working agreement” – an agreement which can if necessary be ratified by the courts.
At each session we check how things have gone, what has worked, what has been difficult and take practical steps to ensure everything remains in place.
Parents often describe what they go through as “tough love”, and readily recognize that what we achieve in 5 weeks is invariably more than what may have been achieved in 18 months of other forms of dispute resolution – whether that be through the Courts or mediation.
Just some of the practical tools and methods we practice with parents make an impressive difference to their parent working relationship, and of course how the child perceives this relationship.
We cover things such as just entering a room where the other party is present, through to how to do a child handover in a positive, constructive and supportive way. Something you will be rewarded for through your child’s smiles and attitude.
The parent working agreement also covers all the practical aspects of parenting such as the “whens and where’s” of living arrangements and schooling. It’s about both the practical aspects and building a respectful way of behaving towards each other.
So our advice is to always try to remember to see things through your child’s eyes and get some help. Your child loves Mum and Dad.
To find out more about the Parenting Apart Programme please visit our website email@example.com
Office Telephone No: 01562 700447 Claire Field is the founder of the Parenting Apart Programme
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