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5 Ways to Make Divorce and Separation Easier for Children

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Tavistock Relationships, the charity specialising in helping couples with their relationship difficulties, is expecting to see an increase in people seeking relationship support in January.

Sarah Ingram, director of Tavistock Relationships’ Reducing Parental Conflict programme, explains: ‘Here at Tavistock Relationships, we always see an increase in demand for our services in the New Year. But with the combination of Christmas stress and the pandemic, we are expecting even more people to be experiencing relationship difficulties. As well as placing extra stress on couples still together, Christmas and Covid will also be taking their toll on separated parents who are co-parenting their children.

‘Research reveals that prolonged inter-parental conflict can have a damaging impact on the emotional and behavioural development of children. This sustained conflict can lead to poor concentration, depression and anxiety. Worrying about the state of their parent’s relationship, and maybe fearing they are the cause of the unhappiness, is likely to lead to lower achievement at school. Aspects of unresolved conflict between parents can also haunt the forming of their own relationships.

‘At Tavistock Relationships, we work with couples, whether they are together or separated, to find ways to minimise destructive conflict, to benefit them and their children.’

Sarah advises on five ways to make divorce and separation easier for children:

Always keep your child in mind

Your child needs both of you to stay involved in their life. Whether they are living with you, or your co-parent, keep communicating with your child. Speak to your child, tell them that it’s not their fault, listen to their feelings and encourage them to talk to you about their worries.

Don’t speak badly of the other parent in front of your child

Try to agree on matters related to your child. When you argue about your child, they may think they did something wrong and feel guilty. It is unfair and unkind to expect your child to listen to you speak badly of their parent – they do not want to defend their parent to another parent.

Be kind

Bear in mind, you and your co-parent might be feeling differently about the separation, try being kind to each other.

Make a time to discuss

Give your co-parent notice about what you would like to talk about. If things are starting to become stressed, take some time out or stop and return to the conversation at a later point.

Find support for yourself

A break-up is difficult. If you find you are struggling with coping, there are support groups in lots of different forms, maybe try therapy or research online for what might help.

Tavistock Relationships has over 120 highly-trained therapists providing a psychotherapeutic approach to resolving relationship challenges and delivering more than 20,000 counselling sessions each year. Currently, most therapy is being delivered online. Tavistock Relationships also offers free parenting support to couples whether together or separated, in 14 local authority areas through the Department for Work & Pension’s ‘Reducing Parental Conflict Programme’.
Further information is available on Tavistock website.

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