Parental Guide - Other Family
HOW CAN OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS HELP?
If your children can keep contact with both sets of grandparents, this can be enormously helpful if providing them with a sense of security and belonging.
A grandparent can be someone your children can talk to and if not a grandparent, then your children may benefit from another family member or family friend in whom they can confide. Children are often relieved to talk about their experiences, fears and anxieties.
HOW MUCH SHOULD THE CHILDREN DECIDE WHO THEY LIVE WITH?
It is important to listen to your children and hear their views. However, it is you as parents who make the decisions. Clearly the older the child, the more say they will have in where they are going to live. It is important that just because a child is sixteen, they don’t make the decision themselves. They might want you to make the decision for them despite their age.
HOW DO I REFER TO THE OTHER PERSON?
Try to refer to your ex-partner’s relationship in a positive way. The children may pick up on what you are thinking and how you are feeling. Whilst it may be difficult to deny your feelings, try to be cautious and tactful in what you say, particularly if you are feeling vengeful to the new partner.
Your children can feel trapped between the two of you, as this new person is important to your ex-partner and it is likely to become so to your children. By criticising that person you can make it harder for your children to please both of you as parents. It can feel as if the children are being asked to take sides. The more you can help your children be comfortable in the company of your ex-partner’s new relationship, difficult though it may be, the easier their own relationship with you is likely to be as they won’t have to be so careful what they say to you. They will also feel that it’s okay to enjoy the time they spend with the new partner without having to worry about what you are thinking.
The children can be a battlefield for issues of money, anger, resentment, lost opportunities, depression. It’s hard to keep sight of children’s needs when you are feeling rotten yourself. If you feel you have very little to give and nothing for yourself, how can you be expected to meet your children’s needs? Using the support of family and friends can be a lifeline and also trying to build a social life for yourself – going to the cinema, seeing friends, taking up an evening class, going to the pub. All these may make you feel stronger emotionally which in turn can help you to support your children through your separation or divorce.