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Young People Offer Advice to Warring Parents Ahead of Children in Need Appeal

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A year ago, Tavistock Relationships, the internationally renowned charity providing couple therapy, received funding from BBC Children in Need to deliver an innovative three-year programme of therapeutic support to separated parents, where their conflict is affecting the mental health of their child.

The project also includes a peer monitoring programme for small groups of young people aged 11–18 years, run by Fitzrovia Youth in Action.

Richard Meier, policy and projects manager at Tavistock Relationships, explains:

We know that inter-parental conflict damages children and the coronavirus pandemic has increased inter-parental conflict, with the workload of the family courts growing (see Cafcass report).

‘Family relationships are consistently in the top three reasons why children contact ChildLine and are also the most commonly cited presenting problem in young people’s mental health services.

‘We applaud BBC Children in Need for having the courage and insight to fund our innovative project, which aims to help separated parents to develop a better co-parenting relationship in the interests of their children, and for children to enjoy improved mental health and well-being as a result of being able to share and explore their feelings with other young people going through similar experiences.’

To highlight the 2020 Children in Need Appeal on 13 November, the young people involved in the project have put together a video featuring the following advice for separated parents who are experiencing difficulties in communicating and co-parenting.

Be in the same room

Kids want their parents to be in the same room to address their issues and to be able to co-parent efficiently. Not being in the same room puts your child in an uncomfortable and unfair position.

Don’t speak badly of the other parent

Children don’t want to be put in the middle of your arguments. It is unfair and unkind to expect your child to listen to you speak badly of their parent – they do not want to have to defend you to another parent.

Communicate with your child

When parents break up, children are affected and many feel as if it’s their fault. Speak to your child, remind them that you love them, reassure them that it’s not their fault and most importantly, listen to their feelings.

Get help for yourself

Young people understand that a break up is difficult for their parents and they want you to find the kind of help you need – whether it’s a local support group, therapy or couple counselling.

For more information about the wider work that Tavistock Relationships is supporting to reduce inter-parental conflict and the damage to children, go to their website.

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