Both parents are important in the life and development of children and their involvement is an integral part of the healthy outcome for children of broken relationships. So while you are no longer together, you will remain parenting partners.
Professor of psychology Dr Archibald Hart describes in Helping Children Survive Divorce1 how each child at the end of marriage has a right to see and love both parents. He claims it is the parents’ responsibility to facilitate this.The Australian Courts view on parenting arrangements is: ‘Contact with family members is considered to be the right of a child (not the right of a parent). 2 An exception to this is where the child would be put at risk. Seek professional advice if this is the case.
When relating with a parenting partner the golden rule is put the children first. The children should be paramount in all considerations with their welfare being of the utmost importance. Research shows that if managed well parental separation is not harmful to children in the long term, but ongoing parental conflict is. Conflict typically can be seen in anger, verbal abuse, distrust, avoidance, control, criticism and problems communicating to the other parent. Conflict is also not healthy for you either.
How are you managing conflict with the other parent?
The absent parent.
In The Australian Bureau of Statistics report on Family Characteristics in June 2003, 31% of children will see the other parent never or once a year3. When the other parents is absent, it may be up to you to ensure that the children meet and have special time with their other parents family even though this may not be comfortable for you (it goes back to putting the needs of the children first).
Children invariably put parents on a pedestal which will crash down during their teen years. Even the absent parent will be idolized.
Walk the fine line between not bad mouthing the absent parent and giving enough information to satisfy the child that it is not their fault. Reassure them of your love. Read this article – ‘Absent Parent’ for more information.
Relating to the other parent
Relating to the other parent in person or when they are absent is another area that will be impacted be forgiveness; forgiving real or perceived injury and attitudes. See blog with practical strategies on outworking The one step in relating with the other parent
How do you talk about and refer to the other parent? How do you communicate with them?
Resources for children
For children’s books to support children in shared care arrangements (Christian content) ‘Caught in the Middle’ and ‘My two houses’ click here
1. Hart, A. (1996) Helping Children Survive Divorce. Word Publishing, U.S.A.
2. Family Relationships Online (2016), Children and Separation, Australian Government http://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/BrochuresandPublications/Pages/ChildrenAndSeparationBooklet.as