After the separation:  Three things the kids must have in their lives:

  1. Reassurance
  2. Kids need to be frequently reassured about many things after a separation.  Here are the top two:

    • In absolutely no way is the separation the fault of the kids.
    • While Mum and Dad do not love each other anymore, Mum and Dad will always love the kids.
  3. Predictability
  4. Kids do much better when they can count on certain events happening day to day, week to week, month to month.  During the chaos of a separation kids need to be able to count on certain things, such as contact with each parent, where they will be living, etc.

  5. Consistency
  6. A close cousin to predictability, consistency provides just as powerful a calming effect.
    Kids always need parents to do what they say there are going to do.
    For kids, the way words become the reality is through predictably and consistently seeing the behaviour match the words.

Contact after separation – what works best for children:

  • Keep tension away from your children – seek support elsewhere
  • Make sure your children do not hear or see you fighting about contact issues or property matters
  • Keep your children out of your arguments with or about the other parent
  • Ensure arrangements are followed and not used as bargaining or control means with the other parent
  • For younger children parents take responsibility for decisions about children’s matters: it is a burden for the children to make decision about contact.
  • Make sure they know you approve of them having contact with their other parent- be positive about the other parent when talking to your children
  • Actively encourage your children to attend and enjoy their visits
  • Visits go more smoothly if parents can talk reasonably and encourage positive feelings about the other parent with children
  • Extended visits allow a new relationship to develop in a more natural way
  • Timetables concerning the children should be agreed upon between parents and every effort made to keep them
  • Provide your contact address and number in case of emergency
  • Maintain consistent and stable schedules
  • Avoid making negative comments about the other parent. Your children are part of both parents, and have the right to love both of you – so don’t make them choose.
  • Keep your focus on your children’s wellbeing rather than on what is ‘fair‘ for you.
  • Separate parental communication time from children communication time. When you communicate with the child when the child is with the other parent, keep the focus on the child and avoid this being a time to discuss with the other parent about parental matters.

 
This information is provided by Hugh Thompson, a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (Brisbane).