Written by Adele Ballantyne

Adele has an MA in Relationship Therapy in 2011 and is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). She has experience in helping a wide variety of individuals, couples and families. Her consultancy work with organisations includes contracts with hospitals and NHS Trust departments.

When separating couples first come to see me, one of the first things they usually say is, “we don’t want to hurt the children” Quite often what occurs if parents 
don’t seek help early on is that through behaviour, body language and intonation thy end up doing just that.

Getting help early on is crucial if you want a less painful separation journey especially for your children.

Separation is a journey most couples don’t think will happen to them when they first get together. So when it does they only have the narrative about what happens when you separate from the media, if friends have separated, or if their own parents had separated. Getting help early on is crucial if you want a less painful separation journey especially for your children.

It is important during this pandemic that co-parenting couples try to focus on their own behaviour and understand the impact of what it’s “saying” to their children.

Some points to consider

You are doing the best you can under the circumstances, sometimes you will get it wrong. That’s OK, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.

  • Remember you are not your child’s ‘best friend’, they have their own friends, you are their parent and they need you to parent, especially during the ‘lockdown’. That means rules with consequences and setting boundaries
  • Try to be aware of how you communicate with your ex over the telephone, or video 
call, think about whether your children can hear you, think about how you sound when you speak, try not to argue, if things get heated call a time out and try again later.
  • When discussing arrangements with your children, try to sound positive even if you aren’t, they will pick it up if you aren’t happy about it and that can give a negative message about them spending time with mum or dad.
  • Remember that children will often mirror your behaviour. It is easy to misinterpret this as them being reluctant to see their other parent.
  • Sometimes when returning from their other home children will say they haven’t had a good time or its been boring or indeed that their other parent doesn’t do anything with them. In my experience this happens when children pick up non-verbal cues from the the parent they live with most, that imply it’s not ok to go and be with their other parent.
  • It is so hard for children who end up managing their parents conflictual co- parenting relationship, they can do this from quite a young age and it really affects their emotional wellbeing as they grow up.
  • The best thing that you can do to help prevent this is to encourage your children to have a relationship with both parents.
  • Be the best and most consistent parent you can be especially during this pandemic.

You may also like…

Recommended books for parents on how to tell your children you are separating – HERE

Recommended books/resources on co-parenting – HERE

‘What Does It Mean To Put Your Children First? by Dr Angharad Rudkin –  HERE

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