This week is Family Dispute Resolution Week. The purpose is to raise awareness of conciliatory methods of resolving issues arising as a result of a breakdown in a family relationship.
Resolution are raising the profile for #childrenfirst in separation and divorce. They state that many couples do not consider their children's needs first but give higher priority to organising the financial matters and the divorce process.
Resolution provide the following guidance for speaking to children about relationship breakdown:
"Tips for talking to your children
- If possible, sit down and tell your children about your separation together. This will help to show your children that you are still their parents, no matter what has happened.
- Talk in general terms, like “we will be happier living in different homes.” Children shouldn’t have to worry about adults’ problems.
- Children will be worried about how their life will change – where they will live, how often they will see each of you and how life might be different. Try and develop answers to these questions as soon as possible and let them know that it’s okay to ask questions.
- Children often feel responsible when their parents break up. Make sure you reassure them that nothing is their fault and that they can do nothing to change the situation.
- Different children will react in different ways. They might be angry, upset or seem to show no reaction at all. In families where there has been a lot of fighting, children might even be relieved. It’s important to let children know that their feelings are normal and that they can always talk to you.
- Talking to children about your separation during an everyday activity, such as playing football or doing the food shopping, can make the situation less tense and help the children feel that they are not being interrogated about their feelings. This can help them to open up.
- Some children don’t want to talk; perhaps because they think that discussing the break up will make it “too real”. You can let your children know that you understand this is hard for them, and that you will listen whenever they are ready to talk.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure that you have support around you to help you through this period, without leaning on your children or burdening them with your worries.
- If your child is particularly upset by the situation and finding it difficult to communicate, a Resolution member will be able to refer you to a professional in your area who can help."
Resolution have also launched a new guide “Separating Together: Your options for separation and divorce” this has the intention of helping separating couples explore alternatives to court using alternative dispute resolution such as negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.
The end of your relationship will be a difficult time for you, but if you have children it may be even more difficult for them. The way you talk to your children about your separation will help them to feel secure and loved by both parents. This is easiest if you can maintain a civilised, practical working relationship with your former partner. Children have a right to love both of their parents, even if they are living apart. In nearly all circumstances, your children will be happier now and in the future if they have a good relationship with both parents. This is easiest to achieve if you can maintain a respectful relationship with your former partner.