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Short course: “Getting It Right for Children”
Do you know the best ways to stay calm and to make sure you listen as well as talk? Are you prepared to see things differently? Can you stop a discussion turning into an argument? When things get heated, most people struggle to keep their cool. Research shows that drawn-out disagreements between parents can make children feel stressed and unhappy, particularly when it’s obvious to them that something is going on.  What do I need to do? Making agreements can be hard. Sticking to them can be even harder! Practising communication and negotiation skills can help things go more smoothly, even if you and your child’s other parent have very different opinions and emotions are running high.  We've suggested a good place for you to start based on what you've told us already. In this section you can work on improving the way you communicate and negotiate. The skills you gain will help you work with your child's other parent to create and stick to your Parenting Plan. Most people find it helpful to go through the skills in order, so we'd recommend starting at the beginning, and going through the three sections in order: STOP TALK IT OUT WORK IT OUT The first step is usually to STOP arguing. This means staying calm, making sure you listen and being prepared to see things differently. The next step is to TALK IT OUT. Here, you will learn how to speak for yourself and the benefits of being clear and sticking to the rules.  The final step is to WORK IT OUT. This is where you bring it all together by looking at the best ways to negotiate when things are difficult.
Activity | course, GIRFC
0 10 items
Co-parenting a disabled child
All relationships go through periods of change and challenge. Some parents find these experiences bring them closer together, while others are overwhelmed by the experience and struggle to stay together. If things have broken down and you have decided to separate, we have some hints and tips to help you carry on caring for your child, whether you live with them or not.No longer living under the same roof as your children will inevitably affect the level of contact you have with them and it will usually be necessary to agree contact arrangements with your former partner. Legally, a person with parental responsibility cannot be denied contact with their child without the intervention of the courts. Of course, it will usually be best if both parents can discuss and agree appropriate arrangements informally. You’ll need to work together with your ex to ensure you can provide the full support your child needs from both parents. Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in how disabled children integrate into school and social life [4] and non-resident parents play an important role in this [5]. As separated parents, working together makes you more effective at providing a responsive parenting role, and more likely to have a better relationship with your child [6].This kind of collaboration between separated parents is known as co-parenting. Communicating with your ex For some parents, having to maintain contact with one another and sort out arrangements for the children can be a huge strain. If you’re still upset with your ex-partner, you may be finding it difficult to communicate with them. However, it’s important to try and set your disagreements aside long enough to get your living arrangements in order and make a collaborative parenting plan that means your child has a stable environment or environments where they can get the best possible support from both of you [3]. Here are some tips to help you communicate with your ex and protect your children from any fallout from the separation:   avoid blaming yourself or your partner agree not to let your own relationship issues get into the discussion create some rules together about how best to manage meetings continue at another time if you feel discussions sliding into tricky waters don’t communicate with your partner through your child focus on child-related issues; it can help keep your dialogue clear and to the point work on a parenting plan together don’t argue with your partner about the children in front of them. This will only increase their sense of guilt and blame about the break up. Supporting your children Helping your child through a period of separation or divorce is challenging as you come to terms with your own feelings. But there are things you can do that can help. Keeping children informed about what is happening will help to prevent them blaming themselves and worrying unnecessarily. You can help children feel more secure by helping them to express their feelings, letting them know that you understand how they feel, and making sure they feel they can ask questions if they want to, will help. Children often feel a great sense of loss and letting them grieve is an important part of helping them to deal with the situation and to move on to accept the changes in their family relationships. They may also express anger towards you, whilst this can be hurtful, try not to take it too personally as it can be a sign they are finding it hard to cope. Denial is also a common response. A child will naturally have hopes and fantasies about the family, such as wanting you all to be reunited. Talking about these feelings, without raising false hopes, will help your child to move on. Avoid criticising your ex-partner in front of the children. It can be very upsetting for them and leave them feeling forced to take sides. Mothers and fathers Research has shown that mothers and fathers of disabled children can experience stress differently. Mothers’ stress tends to be focused around the daily caring tasks [7], while fathers are more likely to worry about their emotional attachment with the child [8]. If you are the parent with the main caring duties, you may need to ask for some extra support from friends and family to help you stay on top of daily care. If you are the non-resident parent, you may want to schedule in regular phone calls between visits to help stay in touch and maintain the connection with your child. Working together As a co-parent, you still have a parenting role to perform, even if you don’t live with your child. While you may not be in a couple relationship anymore, you and your child’s other parent will need to maintain a co-operative parenting relationship to give your child the maximum benefit of your care. If you are the resident parent, part of your role will be to share information with your child’s other parent and, assuming it is safe and meets any court requirements in place, ensure that they have access to your child. While it can be hard to let your ex-partner into your routines, it’s important to be open and welcoming for the sake of your child, particularly when there is important information to share about medical care and other additional needs [1]. Face-to-face visits are the best way to maintain good quality parent-child relationships but if you live a long way away from your child, frequent contact through emails, phone calls, or video calls can help make up for some of this distance [9]. Staying in touch with your ex can also help you plan for unexpected events, like your child leaving something they need at the other parent’s home. You don’t necessarily have to spend intensive time together, as long as you both commit to the agreed arrangements and stay in touch about important decisions. If you are struggling to maintain a good relationship with your child’s other parent, you can use the free parenting plan at Splitting Up? Put Kids First to keep on top of parenting arrangements without having to interact directly. References [1] Newacheck, P. W., Inkelas, M., & Kim, S. E. (2004). Health services use and health care expenditures for children with disabilities. Pediatrics, 114(1), 79-85. [2] Roberts, K., & Lawton, D. (2001). Acknowledging the extra care parents give their disabled children. Child: care, health and development, 27(4), 307-319. [3] Shandra, C. L., Hogan, D. P., & Spearin, C. E. (2008). Parenting a child with a disability: An examination of resident and non-resident fathers. Journal of Population Research, 25(3), 357-377. [4] Pascall, G., & Hendey, N. (2004). Disability and transition to adulthood: the politics of parenting. Critical Social Policy, 24(2), 165-186. [5] Amato, P. R., & Gilbreth, J. G. (1999). Nonresident fathers and children's well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 557-573. [6] Sobolewski, J. M., & King, V. (2005). The importance of the coparental relationship for nonresident fathers’ ties to children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1196-1212. [7] Pelchat, D., Lefebvre, H., & Perreault, M. (2003). Differences and similarities between mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of parenting a child with a disability. Journal of child health care, 7(4), 231-247. [8] Cohen, M. S. (1999). Families coping with childhood chronic illness: A research review. Families, Systems, & Health, 17(2), 149. [9] McGene, J., & King, V. (2012). Implications of new marriages and children for coparenting in nonresident father families. Journal of family issues, 33(12), 1619-1641.
Article | co-parenting, parenting apart
0 5 min read
Agreeing on medical treatment
What is happening? For many separated parents, as their relationship with their partner comes to an end, their parental partnership continues forward. Even if there’s no love (or at least, no romantic love) left between one another as parents, the shared love for your child remains and grows. But of course, such parental partnerships are rarely easy or straightforward, and for many parents of disabled children, extra stresses and complexities are likely to pop up. These can cause friction and disagreements.These disagreements will vary parent to parent, often depending on the condition of the child. But, according to research, the two main points of disagreement for separated parents of disabled children are [1]: The medical treatment their child’s needs The educational approach for their learning needs “If parents disagree on treatment or educational approaches for their special needs child, separation and/or divorce usually magnify these differences.”[1]                                                                                  In other words, if you struggled to agree on these subjects when you were a couple, there's a good chance it will be harder to agree when you're separated.  How can I help? If your child’s medical treatment is being discussed with a doctor, a specialist, or healthcare member, make sure that you encourage one another to attend appointments together wherever possible. It can be helpful to carry the mind-set that your partnership needs work and effort in the same way that your relationship once did. So, if it feels uncomfortable to attend medical and healthcare meetings together, it may be worth pushing through the awkwardness and the tension for the sake of improving the partnership. Consider using an online parenting plan with your ex-partner, and choose one that allows you to customise it for specific issues. Parenting plans like “Splitting Up? Put Kids First” will allow you to choose your own category, e.g. “Medical treatment for our child”, where you can write down your suggestions and proposals. Your partner would then respond and either agree or disagree with what you’ve put forward. Eventually, you can reach joint decisions and make agreements while keeping emotions and friction to a minimum. Whether you’re talking face-to-face, via a parenting plan or through a series of texts, try to place a real emphasis on respecting one another and using clear communication. It’s going to be difficult to separate your emotions, but your child and your parental partnership with your ex will benefit from your efforts.     If you’re going through a separation or a divorce, you can help to minimise the negative effects that separation can cause on your child’s development and well-being by focussing on the partnership with your ex-partner and the shared love of your child. And, by being active and finding ways to work together as a partnership, your ex-partner may be more responsive and agreeable, knowing how much you want to make the parent partnership work. References: [1] Pickar, Daniel B., and Robert L. Kaufman. “Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children: Applying a Risk-Assessment Model.” Family Court Review 53, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 113–33.
Article | disability, parenting
0 4 min read
Managing parenting styles after separation
When parents separate and emotions are running high, it can be hard to find common ground, but the parenting relationship continues long after the couple relationships ends. You and your ex-partner will have to find a way to make it work, even if you have different parenting styles. Parenting styles    Parenting styles are not set in stone, but you might recognise bits of yourself or your ex in one of these: Authoritarian. Authoritarian parenting is a very strict style, with rules that aren’t to be questioned by children. It can be effective in the short term but may be damaging to children’s confidence and self-esteem [1]. Permissive. Permissive parenting has very few rules and parents tend to take on more of a friendship role. Children raised without clear boundaries sometimes struggle to cope with stress when they get older [2]. Authoritative. Authoritative parenting is more balanced. Rules and guidelines are explained to children, and balanced with warmth and caring. Children with this type of background tend to be more confident and socially responsible, and better at making decisions for themselves [1]. Parents whose styles differ can find it hard to reach agreements, even when they are together. If you’ve separated from your child’s other parent, it may seem impossible. But, if you work together, you’ll find you can reach compromises and ensure that your child’s best interests are prioritised [3]. Parenting after separation When parents split up, one of the biggest risks to children’s wellbeing comes from the increased conflict they witness. Having a positive relationship with your ex can minimise this risk [3], so it’s important to try and share parenting in a collaborative way. There are bound to be some disagreements but you can protect your children by making sure you don’t argue in front of them or put them in the middle of your conflict.  Don’t ask your children to spy on your ex. Don’t make them responsible for sharing information about living arrangements or money. Don’t use time spent with one parent or the other as a punishment or reward. Don’t lean on your children for emotional support when you are sad or angry about your separation. Don’t try to convince your children that you are right and your ex is wrong.  Work things out with your ex. Talk about what each of you feels is best for the children – not for yourselves – and agree to make compromises. Find common parenting ground A parenting plan can help you sort out the practical arrangements. The free template at Splitting Up? Put Kids First allows you to come up with agreements and compromises online so you can review each other’s suggestions without having to get together face to face. There are some specific communication skills that can help you get on better with your ex-partner and get through the conversations that you need to have. The course Getting it Right for Children, can help you with these skills: Staying calm. Active listening. Seeing things from different perspectives. Speaking for yourself. Sticking to the rules. Negotiating solutions. Working things out, and trying the solutions you have agreed. The course is free and may help you to and your ex find solutions that make life easier for your children as they adjust to their new circumstances. Parents who have taken this course showed improvements in the following areas: Talking to their ex-partners about childcare. Keeping conflict away from children. Staying out of court. Keeping calm with ex-partners. Seeing things from each other’s points of view. Agreeing on childcare solutions [4]. These tools can help you get through the initial transition or a difficult period later on. Your parenting styles and your children’s needs will naturally develop over the course of time, so it’s always useful to be able to communicate well and reach compromises.  When disagreements arise, keep talking. When your styles clash again, look for common ground. Keep practising and remember: no matter how you and your ex-partner might feel about each other, the best solutions are the ones that work for your children. References [1] Baumrind, D. (1991). The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56–95. [2] Benson, M. J., Buehler, C., & Gerard, J. M. (2008). Interparental Hostility and Early Adolescent Problem Behavior: Spillover via Maternal Acceptance, Harshness, Inconsistency, and Intrusiveness. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 28(3), 428–454. [3] Chen, M. and Johnston, C. (2012). Interparent Childrearing Disagreement, but not Dissimilarity, Predicts Child Problems after Controlling for Parenting Effectiveness. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41 (2), 189-201. [4] Getting it Right for Children When Parents Part: https://click.clickrelationships.org/content/parenting-apart/course-getting-it-right-for-children/
Article | parenting apart, parenting styles, co-parenting
0 4 min read
“My ex and contact with our daughter”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   A bit of the back story... My ex and i were together for 3 years when i got pregnant with our daughter, she was planned i was 36 and she is my first child my ex has 10 year old twins from a previous relationship who he sees every weekend, admittedly it was me that wanted our daughter when my ex and i discussed trying for a baby he admitted he wasnt as excited as me about the idea but said he would have one more child with me. Once i had my daughter i was immediately quite shocked at how little he actually helped me with her, she was quite a difficult baby she had colic reflux and milk allergy so didn't sleep a lot at first, my ex had a 2 week paternity leave then had to go back to work so i didnt expect him to do alot as he was working and i was on maternity leave however wen he did have our daughter on a night for an hour or so it was astho he was doing me a favour? Even saying to me if i asked for a little more help 'but i work!' Things got progressively worse after that i did every single night feed myself even at weekends when he was off not once did he offer to do it, i admit i became resentful esp when i got no help with housework and when the twins came on a weekend i also had them to look after too with no help from him, things came to a head resulting in him telling me he didnt feel the same about me anymore and we split, i moved back to my parents with my 10 month old daughter. Since the split my ex has stayed in contact and picks up my daughter mainly when i have to work however i went back to work part time so this in effect only adds up to approx 11 hours per week that he has her, several times hes let me down and hasnt picked het up only letting me no last minute, he refuses to have her over night too, ive bitten my tongue for a long time because i dont want anything to impact on my daughter who does love her dad and he is good with her when he has her but his lack of interest n letting her down has brought things to a head and last night we had a huge arguement (not infront of my daughter) i told him how i felt and gave him a few home truths which did not go down well so he brought our daughter home early and is now refusing to have her until i 'stop hasseling him' im at a loss what to do next all i want is for him to take more of an interest in our daughter.
Ask the community | separation, contact
Children’s loyalty issues after separation
Children face difficult loyalty conflicts when forced to choose between their parents. If being close to one parent means being disloyal to the other, children can feel stuck in the middle. Trying to choose between two parents they love can feel like an impossible situation. It’s often hard for parents to spot loyalty conflicts. Most parents just want to do what’s in the child’s best interests, but their perceptions of this can be clouded by feelings about the other parent. As a result, loyalty conflicts are often caused by unconscious behaviour and subtle messages from parents, and are usually unintended.  How to recognise loyalty conflicts If your child is frequently upset at handovers, seems unwilling to visit the other parent, or even refuses to go, they may be experiencing divided loyalties. Your child’s feelings are heavily influenced by your relationship with your ex-partner. This relationship is likely to be complicated, especially in the early days when you are still working things out. As co-parents, it’s important for you and your ex to have an ongoing relationship. You may need to address some of the following issues: Competition. Your children matter more to you than anything else in the world, and it can feel wonderful to know how much you mean to them. You may instinctively want to try and prove that you’re a better parent than your ex, but this can be confusing and worrying for your children. Remember that it’s best for the children when both of you are on top of your parenting game. Insecurity. If you are already the children’s main carer, separation can feel like a challenge to your role. You might feel like you have more of a right than the other parent to raise your children. It might even feel like your ex is suddenly putting effort into spending time with the children when they didn’t before – this can feel particularly threatening. Anger. It’s common to feel angry during and after a separation and there may be a part of you that wants to punish your ex. However reasonable this feels, it’s essential for your children’s happiness that you leave them out of your disputes. Don’t use your children as bargaining chips, and don’t expecting them to share your anger. Control. You will have to relinquish some control when your children spend time with their other parent. This might make you anxious, but it’s best for the children if you avoid criticising the other parent’s way of doing things. Children are generally good at adapting to different house rules and parenting styles but it can be difficult for them if their parents try to undermine each other. If you there are no immediately obvious reasons why your child is experiencing difficulties, it’s possible there’s a loyalty conflict. Give your children permission to be as close to the other parent as they are to you. Watch out for the hidden messages that children pick up on, and make sure you and your ex are doing as much as possible to make sure your children are comfortable and happy in both homes. Separated partners tend to reassess each other in the light of their relationship breakdown. If your ex has hurt you and disappointed you, you may feel that they’re untrustworthy, selfish, uncaring, irresponsible, and whatever else comes to mind. But it is important to remember that this assessment is about your ex as a partner, and not as a parent. Hard as it may be, try to focus on their good points as a parent. Remember that this is how your children see them, and try to separate your feelings from your children’s. Talking this through with a friend or a counsellor could help you to find new ways of adapting to being a single parent. If you and your ex are struggling to agree the arrangements for your children, a family mediator can support you in deciding what’s best for them.
Article | children, parenting apart
0 5 min read
“Prevented from seeing my son”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I am a single dad who has an almost 6-month-old son. His mother and I are not in a relationship. My son was the unexpected result of a short casual affair. DNA proved that he is my son and I have been paying maintenance. I have also formed a relationship with him and love him very much. I have been seeing him several times a week without his mother and have also had him stay overnight once. His mother is a good mother to him but she has now decided to stop me seeing him and has said I have to apply legally to see him. There is no good reason for this. I am a good father, I do not drink, smoke or am abusive or violent. She has also said I will be able to see him only in a Supervised Contact Centre until he is 6 years old. Is this correct? I am sure she has stopped me seeing my son because she wanted to get back with me into a relationship which for various reasons I do not want. I do not have Parental Rights yet as the mother has refuse to sign the form giving me these rights. I now have to apply to the courts. I feel that for my son to have a Birth Certificate which says Father Unknown is unfair to him . I have booked a Mediation Appointment. Can anyone advise me on what visitation rights I may be able to have. My boy is missing out on a loving extended family situation.
Ask the community | contact