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Six tips on introducing new partners
What happens when you or your ex meet someone new and want to introduce them to your children? This is often a difficult transition but it’s likely to happen at some point, and it will require a lot of self-awareness and control. It’s natural for this next step in your co-parenting journey to feel daunting or overwhelming and for feelings of insecurity or anxiety to arise. We’ll discuss a few tips from people who have ‘been there and done that’ to help you to navigate this new chapter. Six tips for introducing new partners to your children 1. Keep your ex in the loop and communicate openly with them Where possible, discuss introducing new partners to your children with your ex before it happens. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if they introduced someone to your children without knowing? In a co-operative parenting relationship, it’s important that you both have a say and know what’s happening, even though there is little that you or they can do to prevent it. This leads us on to our next tip… 2. Understand you can’t prevent it from happening It’s natural to feel protective over your children but, unless there are danger signs, there’s not much you or your ex can do to prevent a new partner from being introduced at some point. Successful co-parenting relationships all have one thing in common – you both accept that you can’t control everything. It’s OK to request that you meet the new partner before they are introduced to your kids but if that isn’t possible, try to trust that your ex wouldn’t introduce the children to anyone unsuitable. Accepting that you have no say over each other’s new partners can be hard. 3. Establish boundaries sooner rather than later While you can’t stop new partners from being introduced to your kids, it’s important to have an open dialogue to establish boundaries. Let your ex know what you are and aren’t comfortable with and vice versa. Having these conversations prior to the situation happening will help to ease any emotional reactions in the moment. You could even build them into your parenting plan at the point of separating. Being clear and transparent with each other will help grow your co-parenting relationship and set the foundations of your blended family off on the right foot. 4. Don’t talk to your children negatively about your ex’s new partner It’s natural for negative feelings to arise when your ex introduces a new partner, but don’t share these feelings with your kids. Use other support networks like close friends and family and make sure you do it out of earshot from the children. Your children don’t need to know if you dislike the new adult in their life and belittling them in front of the kids won’t help you in the long run. Try and look at this new person as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. You are not being replaced, but rather providing your children with another adult who may become a source of love and guidance in the future. If you can work together, your children may well come to benefit from the experience. 5. Keep busy when your kids are with your ex and their new partner It may be difficult knowing your kids are with someone else, and you may feel lonely or jealous when they are away from you. You can mitigate these feelings by keeping busy or using this time for some self-care. Do something or see people that you wouldn’t normally have time to do or see.  6. Use communication tools for co-parenting There are many helpful co-parenting tools at your disposal, like the amicable co-parenting app. The app helps you to define and communicate your boundaries, schedule shared events to avoid confusion and conflict, and message your ex securely through the messaging function. All the tools were created to help avoid tension and miscommunication that may arise during very common co-parenting milestones like introducing new partners. We hope the above tips help you navigate co-parenting when new partners are introduced. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | new partner, parenting apart, co-parenting
Eight tips to communicate with your ex
When you separate from your ex and have children together, your relationship isn’t over, it’s changed. You may not be romantically tied to each other anymore but you will remain in each other’s lives – learning how to get on and transition from parents to co-parents is a big shift for many couples. Getting it right isn’t easy, but it is worth it and will save you all a lot of hassle and headaches. Here are some tips on how to set things off on the right foot. 1. Create a parenting plan Creating a parenting plan is a game-changer. A parenting plan can help you to record the decisions you’ve made about how and where the children will live, and what your parenting boundaries are. It’s also a great way to pre-empt any issues that may arise in the future. A parenting plan isn’t a legal document and it isn’t set in stone as your children’s ages and stages will change over time. But it is a helpful, structured way of establishing a co-operative parenting relationship. You may be able to work through the process together by using a parenting plan template or you may need to seek support from a co-parenting coach who can help you work through the trickier sections such as shared care arrangements and who pays for what. 2. Accept that It’s OK to have different parenting styles Don’t be put off if you and your ex have different parenting styles. This is not the end of the world and doesn’t need to come in the way of co-operative parenting. You just need to be able to work around it and stick to a plan which enables you to practice both your parenting styles. 3. Don’t sweat the small stuff Give each other time to adjust to your new roles and prepare for when things don’t go to plan. It’s OK to get things wrong, and if you cut your ex some slack, they will likely do the same for you. This is new for both of you and will take time some to get used to but you can be sure of one thing – it’s not going to always go to plan, and that’s OK. If you’re flexible and understanding with your child’s other parent, it’s likely that they will reciprocate. If you’re not willing to be flexible, this may cause tension and result in arguments and won’t benefit any of you. 4. Support your child’s relationship with their other parent It’s important to support your child’s relationship with their other parent. This includes encouraging them to communicate when they are with you. This could be in many forms such as calls, texts, or emails etc. Supporting your ex and cultivating an environment of openness where your children feel they can communicate with both of you will ease the change for them. 5. Keep your child’s other parent in the loop It’s important to keep the other parent in the loop where possible. This doesn’t need to be constant communication; you can just touch base when appropriate. Plan ahead so they aren’t blindsided by things that could have been avoided if you had communicated them earlier. Tools such as the amicable co-parenting app can help with this. 6. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your kids You and your ex might not be each other’s biggest fan but it’s important to avoid vocalising any negative feelings in front of your children. This can make your children feel like they have to pick sides and may affect their relationship with the other parent. If you do slip up, address it by saying something like “I’m sorry I spoke about your mum/dad like that, I was just cross and I shouldn’t have said that in front of you.” 7. Look for the positives If you always assume the worst about your ex and the things they do, it will likely lead to negative communication. Instead, try and gather all the facts before accusing them of anything and look at the positives in situations. If you lead by example, you will find that your children are better off because of it. 8. Communicate as if your ex is a business contact Keep communication short and sweet, especially over messages. Keep to the point and remove any ‘emotional messaging’. If you’re angry, wait until you have calmed down, read your message again and ask yourself if you’d be happy to send it to a business colleague before pressing send. The amicable co-parenting app The amicable co-parenting app enables you to communicate with your child’s other parent in one secure place. The shared calendar helps you to stay organised and includes shared care schedules, one-off and recurring events for each child. The goals section helps you to define and communicate your boundaries and the messaging function stores all your co-parenting communication in one secure place. Try the app for free for 30 days to see if it can help improve your co-parenting relationship. After the free trial, the app is £9.99 a month or £99.99 for the year. Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach
Article | parenting apart, co-parenting, communication
Raising a baby after a breakup
Raising a baby with your ex-partner is unlikely to be something you ever planned for. But, if you and your partner have separated while your child is still very young, you’ll need to find a way to make things work so that you can get on with the job of being parents at a crucial time.  The breakup of a long-term relationship – particularly when there is a child involved – can be profoundly painful. You might be feeling sad, angry, guilty, regretful, relieved, or any number of emotions as you’re left reeling from the shock of the separation. And, while you might need support to get you through it, you must also keep in mind that this time in your child’s life is more important than anything going on between you and your ex. If you feel unable to move forward, it can be useful to get some external help, either in the form of relationship counselling, or individual therapy. Talk to your GP or ask at your local children’s centre to find out what support is available locally. When your emotions are still very raw, it can be difficult to see past them to the next step. Your goal should be get to a stage where you’re able to be the best parent you can be. The first three years of your child’s life are a crucial stage of their emotional development. If you are sharing custody with your ex, be aware that overnight stays in two separate homes can impede your child’s emotional development. While you might both want to have the child living with you, you may have to set aside your own wants for your child’s needs. Don’t focus on fairness between you and your ex – focus on providing continuity and consistency for your child. To achieve this, you’re going to have to cooperate with each other and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. Put your differences aside, and make sure that your child has access to the warmth and care of both parents, even if you no longer want to be with each other [1]. Positive co-parenting You can help your child adjust to your separation by maintaining a positive relationship with your ex. Your child doesn’t care which of you was in the wrong, or which of you is hurting the most – they just need you both to be there for them. When you and your ex are getting along well, it can actually be a positive force for your child’s emotional development [2], regardless of the fact that you’re not together as a couple. Further support Like many parents in your situation, you might feel like you are powerless to change anything, particularly if you’re finding it hard to get along with your ex. However, change has to start somewhere, so it might as well start with you. Let go of any resentments and set aside the temptation to blame your partner. You can be the one to make the first positive change. You may have to be persistent, but you can start to nudge your co-parenting relationship towards being the positive force that your child needs. References  [1] Pruett, M., Mcintosh, J., & Kelly, J. (2014). Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children. Family Court Review, 52(2), 240-255. [2] Camisasca, E., Miragoli, S., Di Blasio, P., & Feinberg, M. (2018). Co-parenting Mediates the Influence of Marital Satisfaction on Child Adjustment: The Conditional Indirect Effect by Parental Empathy. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-12.
Article | separation, divorce, co-parenting
What children know about your finances
Children of separated parents pick up on financial arrangements, such as who pays for what, and don’t like hearing parents complain about unfairness. In a recent study [1], 22 children of separated parents were interviewed to find out what they knew about their parents’ financial circumstances and how they felt about it. Most children were aware of the fundamental arrangements but didn’t know much about the specific details. They were also uncomfortable talking about money, saying it wasn’t relevant to them or was none of their business. Many of the children saw this as a loyalty issue, not wanting to favour one parent over the other. They were also very aware of money-based disputes, such as arguments over which parent pays for what. Children tended to feel that their mothers had less money than their fathers, or had more to pay for. This was particularly true for children who lived mainly with their mothers, and may be influenced by what they were seeing their parents paying for. Children living on a more equal basis with both parents were less likely to notice or point out financial inequality. Money seen as a symbol of love Interestingly, many of the children interviewed had picked up on the idea that money was representative of love between their parents. In other words, acknowledging financial problems also meant acknowledging the lack of love between their parents. Children were more likely to be happier when they felt their parents’ financial arrangements were fair. Children seem to be bridging a difficult gap between not knowing and not wanting to know about the specifics of finances, while being all too aware of the fundamentals and how these are handled by their parents. This can be quite a tricky situation for them, particularly when hearing their parents complain about unfairness. If you’re finding it hard to manage money with your ex-partner, try to keep the conflict away from your children. If you need to have a bit of a moan – and we all do from time to time – pick a trusted friend or family member so you can vent steam away from your children. Children do pick up on this kind of thing and they will be happier if you leave them out of it. References [1] Monica Campo, Belinda Fehlberg & Christine Millward (2016): ‘I think it’s okay; I’m not going to say it’s unfair’: Children’s views of financial arrangements in post-separation families, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Article | finance, divorce
Managing handovers with your ex-partner
Handovers can be very difficult, especially if you are feeling awkward or upset at the prospect of facing your ex. You may have to exercise some self-control just to stay calm.If you still have very raw feelings about your ex, you may be tempted to use handovers as an opportunity to speak your mind. Keep in mind that children are very sensitive to the feelings and attitudes around them and that they will pick up on conflict between their parents. For your children’s sake, it’s important to try and make handovers as pleasant as possible.Some handover etiquette: Be courteous. Turn up on time – let the other parent know if you are delayed. Make sure the children have everything they need. Keep difficult conversations away from the children. If you are struggling with this, consider alternative ways of managing the handovers so that your children are protected. Dealing with change over time Transitions are difficult for everyone, especially in the early days. Coming face-to-face with your ex and saying goodbye to your children can bring up some very difficult feelings. It can help to have something planned for the time immediately following the handover so that you can remain upbeat. While it’s hard now, you may eventually come to value the opportunity to have some space to yourself.Children have their own feelings to cope with at handover time. They will need time to settle down, adjust to being in a different home, and get used to their mum or dad not being there. Transitions can be sad reminders to children that their parents aren't together anymore and it's not unusual for young children to come home from a weekend with the other parent in a bad mood. Understanding this can help you manage your expectations, and cope with any changes in your child's behaviour.
Article | parenting apart, ex-partner
6 2 min read
Your first Christmas Day as a co-parent
Is this your first Christmas as a separated parent? Not sure what to expect or how to handle your new family setup? These tips from amicable’s divorce experts offer pragmatic advice to help you keep things merry for your co-parenting Christmas. 1. Plan ahead Don’t leave plans to the last minute. Many parents make arrangements a year in advance and have Christmas plans documented in a parenting plan. This can take the sting out of negotiating, especially if you do it at a time when you’re on good terms and not trying to angle for a specific outcome. If you haven’t got a parenting plan, you can use our free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First. However you plan things, make sure there’s plenty of time for everyone’s views to be heard and time to get used to the arrangements. 2. Start new traditions Divorce can bring feelings of grief, and never more so than when you start contemplating ‘how things used to be’. The ending of traditions can be tough to get used to. Now is the time to be creative and invent new ways of doing Christmas. Involve your kids in planning the day, and focus on embracing change. Open your presents at a different time, have a walk after lunch instead of before, or just go nuts and eat all the Quality Street at midnight – it’s up to you to reinvent your family Christmas. Your energy and embracing of change will filter down to your kids and their experience of Christmas. 3. Who should the children spend their day with? If your children are old enough to have their say on how they want to spend Christmas, then account for this, even if it feels unfair to you. Listen to what the kids want and try and accommodate their needs and wants. If they are too little, then consider splitting the time either on the day or over the Christmas period. Try to minimise the to-ing and fro-ing, as this can cause unnecessary stress, especially if you live far apart. 4. Be realistic Typically, parents are very sensitive to Christmas being a special day and want to do the right thing. Your children might push for you all to spend the day together as a family. If you feel this is achievable, that’s great, but for many parents it just isn’t a realistic prospect. An atmosphere of tension on Christmas Day is not good for anyone, but it’s especially tough for the kids. Be realistic – if spending the day or even a short time together will cause tension, then don’t go there. They will cope more easily with seeing you separately than having to deal with you being angry or upset with each other. 5. Kids not with you on the day? If your kids aren’t with you on the day, don’t sit at home – make your own plans. Embrace the day, be inventive, and make it your alternative Christmas. Take the opportunity to spend the day with friends or family or indulge in some me time. So many families have multiple Christmas Days so, if that’s what works for your family, then make a plan and set a date to have your own Christmas Day with the kids. The main thing to remember is that Christmas should be about your children and forming safe, loving environments for them. If you want any ideas about planning your Christmas as a co-parent, join amicable’s online community for people going through divorce and separation.
Article | christmas, contact, separation, amicable
0 4 min read
Telling your children you are getting divorced
Telling your children you are getting divorced is one of the hardest aspects of separating. If you need some help to face this conversation, the following tips will get you on the right track. Tell them what’s happening when something is changing You might make the decision to separate long before you part and live in different houses. For young children, it’s best to wait and tell them you’re separating when the change is imminent. Older children might sense that something is wrong and ask questions. Only tell them you’re divorcing when you are sure you have reached that point. If you are there, and they ask, be honest. Show them you can handle the difficult conversation and listen to their concerns. Be sensitive to their timetable – try not to start difficult conversations directly before exams, birthdays or times when one of you will be away. Do it together If possible, do it with your ex-partner, and know in advance what you are both going to say. It’s often easiest to break the news at the weekend, ensuring that both of you are available for any questions your children might have. Present the news as a decision you both accept. The future co-parenting relationship will rely on a united front, so start as you mean to go on. Deal with any unresolved personal feelings in counselling, and not in front of the children. If you start talking about who’s decision it is, one of you will look weak, and the other will look like the decision maker. This is not a good long-term strategy for co-parenting. The difference between sad and bad It’s important that you frame the conversation in the right way. Don’t try and make it overly positive or present it as a great idea. Whatever relief you may be going through, your children are likely to see it differently at first. It’s OK to say that you are sad and it’s OK to cry (provided you stay in control). Blaming yourself and self-recrimination are not helpful. Try to help them accept that the end of marriage is a sad thing, not a bad thing. Divorce is a change and not the end of world. Go with their emotions; don’t try and change them. Feelings of sadness are expected, and its normal to feel sad after hearing this news. Tell the truth The truth doesn’t mean sharing everything. The ins and outs of your relationship wouldn’t normally be a topic of conversation so they shouldn’t suddenly become one just because you are separating. The truth is, you are getting divorced. One of you may have wanted it first but you have both come to agree that it’s the best way forward for your family. Don’t pretend you are trialling living apart or give children false hope of a reconciliation. Be honest if you don’t know the answers to their questions. Don’t promise unrealistic things just because you’re finding this a tough conversation. Keep it short and simple Stick to the facts and focus on the future. The children must process the news and this will take some time. You may need to repeat the conversation several times – particularly for small children. Try to preempt any questions you think they will ask – especially ‘Why?’ Have a short answer you both stick to and repeat it every time the why question is asked. Be very clear with children of all ages that this is not their fault. Nothing they have done or could have done would have changed anything – repeat this several times. Tell all your children at the same time This will ensure that everyone hears the same thing and no one feels excluded.  They may take comfort from each other. It’s fine to follow up with individual conversations with each child. This will help you answer specific concerns and help you give more age-appropriate reassurances. Being emotional is OK A lot of parents feel they need to ‘be the rock’ in this situation. It’s OK to be emotional when you tell your children – after all, it is sad news. If you are upset in front of the children this will indicate to them that it’s OK for them to be sad, that this release is natural and necessary. Being angry or bad-mouthing your ex-partner is harmful. If you feel like you might react like this, seek advice so you can prepare properly and avoid any harm. Prepare yourself for a reaction Your children may have a big reaction to the news or no reaction at all. Address how they are feeling and stay calm. They have heard what you’ve said and are trying to process it in their own way. Most reactions, however upsetting, are perfectly normal. If things don’t get better over time, this may indicate your child has got stuck in an emotional cycle of behaviour. Seek help if you’re worried – speak to a child counsellor or your GP. For further support and advice on telling your children about your divorce, please get in touch with our partners at amicable.
Article | divorce, children, amicable
Children and non-resident parents
Children benefit from being in regular contact with their non-resident parents but the frequency and quality of this contact can decline over time. A research paper published by The Ministry of Justice looked into the how a child's wellbeing is affected by the relationship they have with the parent they don’t live with. The report (pdf) also looked at the courts’ involvement in settling contact and financial arrangements and the impact these can have on a child’s outcomes as they grow up. The study followed a group of children whose parents had separated by the time they were seven years old. It looked at levels of court involvement in parental separation, and the frequency and quality of the contact between the children and the non-resident parents. Researchers then looked at outcomes for children when they were aged eleven, paying particular attention to: Subjective wellbeing (children’s moods and emotions). Antisocial behaviours, like drinking, smoking, or breaking the law. Social and behavioural problems. How good they were at making decisions around risky behaviour. Contact declines over time According to the report, the level of contact between children and their non-resident parents tends to decline over time, in terms of both frequency and quality. Among children of separated parents, the ones that had the best outcomes at age eleven were those who had had the most contact with their non-resident parents. This can be harder to manage if you’re struggling financially, but it’s important to try and maintain regular quality time together. Even after a separation, you and your ex-partner continue to have a relationship as co-parents, so it’s really important to look after this relationship in as supportive a way as possible. Put your children first and, wherever safe, try to ensure they spend time with both parents. If you’re a non-resident parent and you feel like you don’t get enough time with your children, there are a few helpful things you can work on: Try to resolve your differences with your ex-partner, using external support like mediation where necessary. If you can’t resolve your differences, try to keep your disputes and conflict away from the children. Draw up a parenting plan. Stick to the agreed arrangements, particularly if these have been agreed by the courts. Use the time you do have together to work on developing a bond with your child. You may not love your child’s other parent anymore – you may even resent them or be angry with them – but maintaining contact can protect your child against the negative effects of separation. It might be necessary to set your own feelings aside, at least in the beginning.
Article | contact, non-resident
1 3 min read
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