Separating parents spend time in mediation make a parenting plan to guide their family as it changes shape.
Mediator Maura Mckibbin says with guidance and encouragement parents can navigate their way through the change ahead when it can feel incredibly difficult to talk.
For children the excitement of the last day of the school term can feel overwhelming as they contemplate the fun they will have. The last day of term can feel very different for children whose parents are embroiled in a toxic separation.
Children will feel the intense pain of not being able to spend holidays with both parents together. Parents recognise that many aspects of life must change including holiday traditions.
The key to making change feel manageable is to ensure that parents plan ahead, communicate positively and find compromise when needed.
A parenting plan will provide a structure for those conversations. Mediation helps support parents to talk through the detail.
· Start your conversations well in advance and get support to talk if this is feeling difficult. This is especially important in the first year.
· Examine your holiday traditions and be prepared to make new ones.
· Discuss past holiday traditions with your children acknowledging their importance and keeping/modifying some traditions if that gives a sense of comfort.
· Be careful about providing more excitement that the children are used to.
· Avoid holiday competition between you as this can place a significant burden on children now or years down the road.
· Don’t be apologetic if finances post separation dictate change. An honest, non-blaming explanation can show children that love, not money, is king. Children can happily buy into making new, less materialistic tradition.
· Consider every possibility before you settle on a holiday division that works best for you and your children and accept that this will need to change as children grow up.
· Once you have a plan share this with your children. Ask teenagers for their input keeping in mind they may want to spend some of their holiday time with friends.
· Encourage children to call their other parents when they are holidaying with you.
· Be prepared for the first time that your children holiday with the other parent. Make plans yourself so that your children do not worry about you being on your own.
Above all else don’t be afraid to ask for help and support particularly when separation still feels fresh. Investing time to manage family change well is likely to reap rewards in the years ahead
Maura Mckibbin is a solicitor who dedicates her practice to keeping families out of court. Her goal is to ensure that separated couples have enough support to keep them talking until they can find solutions together.
Maura is trained to meet with children who wish to have a voice. She also runs local Parenting Apart Information Meetings which provide neutral, early information and guidance to help parents to parent together beyond their separation.
She is a member of the Resolution Parenting after Parting Committee. In addition Maura writes and delivers training for other professionals who support families facing separation.
I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. AMANDA MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE HER ONLY CLIENT AND HOLDS YOUR HAND TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH