One of the hardest things for parents following separation is continuing the conversation about what their children need in order to keep channels of communication open, and to continue to parent as part of an effective working relationship. For many couples, the hurt and breakdown of trust associated with the end of their personal relationship is a significant barrier that makes it difficult to do this. While this can become less hard as time passes, it is also easy to become complacent in the patterns that have been built up following separation.
A timely reassessment after the dust of the initial separation settles is a valuable tool in making sure that arrangements made for the children are still the right ones, and enable both parents to think through whether anything needs to change. Investing in a parenting course, such as those run by Tavistock Relationships
, can be beneficial in sparking further evaluation of how the children are coping with the changes in their lives, as well as assisting parents in assessing how their relationship with each other is working. The courses can be attended by both parents, either individually or together.
If that route is not appropriate, the final part of the academic year and the middle of the year following separation is a good time to reassess plans already made and to think through any changes that might take place later.
Some areas that it might pay to revisit are:Summer holidays
The first summer holidays after separation are often a source of anxiety. The family's financial position will inevitably have been affected by separation, and parents often feel concerned as to whether or not a summer holiday is affordable before they even begin to think about where the children are going to be and with whom.
Now is the perfect opportunity to review the practicalities of any holiday arrangements which have already been put in place. Considering a number of practical questions can help iron out any difficulties. It is worthwhile for both parents to think about when the children are going to be away; whether either or both parents need to have the children's passports; and whether the holiday arrangements are realistic, with enough time in between each holiday for the children to adjust to being home and settling down with the other parent.
Another practical difficulty resulting from the long school holiday is the need for additional childcare if one or both parents are working. This might not have been a feature for the family while they were living as one unit, but a change to the normal school routine might involve needing to cover longer hours of care for the children. If one party has planned where the children will be and when, it is crucial that the other parent is aware of the arrangements and what impact it might have on when the children will be with them.
Similarly, it is prudent to consider the arrangements for the end of the school holiday. Is there enough time to stock up on school uniform and equipment for the year ahead? Who is going to be in charge of that and how will it be funded?