When parents separate this has the potential to have a significant impact on their children. Research shows that the children of separated parents can face a future of uncertainty and disadvantage. The Royal College of Psychiatry tell us that the challenges children face can include:
- a sense of loss – separation from a parent can mean you lose not only your home but your whole way of life
- a different, with an unfamiliar family
- being fearful about being left alone – if one parent can go, perhaps the other will do the same
- feeling angry at one or both parents for the relationship breakdown
- worry about having caused the parental separation
- Feelings of guilt
- rejection and insecurity
- feeling torn between both parents.
However, when parental conflict continues long after the separation the implications can be worse still. None of us want this for our children and there is another way.
There is a range of services that can help, and the internet is awash with information. However, navigating through all of this can be a real minefield. Mediators, solicitors, Social Workers and Cafcass all provide an essential service to families experiencing this. Child Contact Centres can also play an essential role in supporting Families post-separation, but these should only ever be a last resort, for families unable to find another way.
However, where do you turn, if you don’t need, or don’t feel ready for professional support?
Fagans have a great (free) educational resource on their website, supporting parents to understand the needs of their children and to equip them to meet these needs in the way that they would want to, post-separation.
Gingerbread has some excellent resources online for separated families. It’s well worth looking at some of these if you’re not sure where to turn.
And, Childline (and the Meic helpline if you live in Wales) are always there for children and young people when they need a confidential place to talk about whatever might be worrying them. Childline and Meic can be a lifeline for lots of children because of the different ways of contacting them and the fact that they are not emotionally involved in whatever might be happening.