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'I am here too.' Not in front of the children

Date:26 SEP 2017
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Family law expert, Lawyer

'I am here too.' The silent cry of a child caught in the tension building between couples who wish to separate or feuding families.

Whether couples in a strained relationship are having heated discussions or living in stony silence, their children may be suffering by their behaviour. Children may be resilient, but they are also sensitive and place their parents on a pedestal. They do not want the emotional burden of taking sides or to hear the other parent or family member being 'bad mouthed'. Why place a child in that position?

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Do not make children fight your battles. Children are a blessing. They look for guidance. Do not make them feel guilty about the decisions you are choosing to make. Do not make them choose for you or make the children feel it is their fault or responsibility.

Parents who show respect in front of their children and consider the impact on them of any words they say to, or in front of them will be helping children lay strong behavioural foundations. In the event of divorce or separation, having a child focused approach will assist to relieve a child of any 'burden' they feel in relation to their parents and grandparents. Try not to enter the 'name blame' cycle.

Show a child compassion and how to be compassionate by example and you will not only be giving your child social skills but also 'developing the person'. Unfortunately, many people lack compassion. Sometimes this can be mistaken as a weakness. It is not. In my view, to be compassionate is to have great strength and positivity

There is help to assist parties and children depending on what their particular situation is including organisations such as Care for the Family and Child Centred Divorce. The Children's Society is a charity that fights 'child poverty and neglect, and helps all children have a better chance in life'. Mediation will assist parties to deal with child arrangements if they cannot agree these between themselves. If agreements cannot be reached at mediation in relation to children, a court order can be obtained under the Children Act 1989 as to who the child will live with for example, or whether the child can travel abroad. Do not have heated confrontations in front of the children; try to find solutions.

Grandparents can have a vital supportive role. Golden rules and boundaries need to be observed by all parties to ensure that children's relationships with family members are preserved, nurtured and developed. Parents and grandparents. You are not the only ones hurting when there is tension in the home or a separation is looming.

An interesting article in the Arizona Daily Star by Dr Heins a pediatrician, parent, grandparent, great-step grandparent, and the founder and CEO of ParentKidsRight.com highlights the tremendous impact grandparents have on 'children of divorce'.

Whether or not parties are to separate and divorce, how they talk about others particularly in front of the children, will affect the children. Strive to be positive role models whether you are a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt or any other adult in a child's life. You can make all the difference. Make it a positive one.