Separating from your partner can be an emotional time, not only for you and your partner, but for everyone in the family.
In families with children, the separation of parents can be particularly hard for the kids, so it’s important to keep their best interests at heart through the emotional and legal journey that follows.
The research suggests that shared parenting time after separation works best when both parents continue to share responsibility for their children and when each parent focuses on the child/children and their right to a meaningful relationship with both parents.
- Make a ‘kids first’ pact. This can help you to focus on what is most important to the both of you.
- Communicate respectfully. Make requests, not demands. Listen, without interrupting. Show restraint. Commit to talking consistently. Keep conversations focused on solutions and compromise.
- Keep kids out of conflicts. If you do find yourself in an argument while your kids are around, suggest to your ex-partner that you both take some time to calm down and resume the discussion later.
- Don’t ask your kids to take sides in any conflict (even if you feel that the other parent is doing this).
- Model respect. Don’t put the other parent down in front of the children or undermine their parenting.
- Remain flexible. Things can change and come up at the last minute. Your ex-partner might be late, or change plans. Keep in mind that getting upset over change may make it harder if you ever need to make changes in the future.
- Create a shared ‘parenting plan’ with your child’s other parent to establish routines and procedures such as bedtime, computer use and discipline. Clear and consistent rules will help give your child security between the two parents and their households.
- Create arrangements that work best for your children. Make arrangements that suit your children’s age, lifestyles and hobbies.
For more advice, listen to our podcast with Relationship mediator Lisanne Iriks