This time of year, during the festive period, can often be particularly difficult for parents who are separated. The prospect of not spending the whole of your child’s Christmas celebrations with them can be daunting and highly emotional. This can understandably lead to tension between you and your ex-partner. In order to minimise the acrimony your child is exposed to when they are moving between their parents, we have noted some useful guidance, which may be of assistance where cases involve direct handover, below:
- Small Talk
Even very young children can pick up on any tension between their parents and they will often feel stuck in the middle, or unfortunately, that they are somehow to blame. These types of feelings are of course detrimental to your child’s wellbeing. To limit the effect of any acrimony on your child, you could engage in some small talk with your ex-partner if you feel able to do so. This can also be a good opportunity to exchange important information about your child. If you don’t feel able to converse with your ex-partner, you could simply smile and wave from a distance.
- Remain Positive
Children will also pick up on any ill feelings you have towards their other parent from the way you speak of them. You should avoid speaking negatively about your ex-partner in the presence of your child. It is very important that you acknowledge and respect your child’s relationship with their other parent.
Additionally, whilst it may be an emotional time for you, you should not show your children that you are upset. If your child thinks you are lonely or sad, they may be reluctant to leave you and it will impact their time spent with their other parent. You should remain positive and encouraging in the presence of your children.
It is important children do not feel as if they must compartmentalise their lives. In other words, that they can’t discuss their time with one parent with the other. If children are aware of any tension or ill feelings between their parents, they may be reluctant to speak about any part of their life associated with their other parent. This can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and confusion for children.
In order to avoid this, you should encourage your children to say goodbye and interact with their other parent during handovers, for example, you could encourage them to hug their other parent before leaving. You should also ask your child in a positive manner about the activities/festive traditions they enjoyed whilst spending time with their other parent, or about the gifts they received from their extended family, for example. By engaging in a conversation of this kind, your child will be able to relax and feel they are able to discuss what they have been doing whilst not in your care.
If you require assistance in relation to the care arrangements for your child, please contact a member of our family law team.
This blog does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general guidance only.