Written by Adele Ballantyne

Adele has an MA in Relationship Therapy in 2011 and is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). She has experience in helping a wide variety of individuals, couples and families. Her consultancy work with organisations includes contracts with hospitals and NHS Trust departments.

Parents who are separated often struggle to share their ‘children time’ with their ex partner. 

Research tells us that children ‘survive’ the separation/divorce of their parents well if there is no conflict and if they can see and spend time with both parents (when it is safe to do so). 

During this pandemic it has been wonderful to see parents really trying hard to facilitate this. However some parents have struggled. 

Below are some strategies for negotiating time to see your children if you live away or are a key worker who is struggling to be there in person.

Co-Create a plan

  • Ensure whilst you do this, the children cannot hear you (if possible), be as private as you can.
  • Have a phone call/skype/FaceTime/zoom meeting or email to discuss how ‘seeing’ the children can take place. Be mindful of the language you use. Suggest rather than make demands, ask open questions e.g. “I wondered about this? What do you think?”
  • Discuss the boundaries, What’s ok? What’s not ok?
  • Keep talking regularly and try to be flexible-remember this is a difficult time for all of us.
  • Try to anticipate any difficulties on the horizon e.g if someone gets ill, and talk about them sooner rather than later.
  • Decide between you the best tech to use. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and decide on a suitable place at home to have meet-ups. These can vary according to size of home and number of people.
  • Agree to be respectful of the non-resident parent’s time with the children.
  • Agree not to restrict contact.
  • Keep to agreed arrangements as much as possible, but also try to be flexible whilst we are in ‘lock down’. It’s worth remembering that it might give the resident parent a bit of time off from the children whilst they are ‘seeing’ the other parent, see it as a ‘gift’
  • Try to be adaptable, children love variety. Think of creative things to do rather than just talking. E.g. baking something simple for older children, watching a movie together, karaoke, musical statues, drawing. Be respectful and check with the resident parent before you tell the children. 

Finally remember …

Help each other out

Try to see this from your ex’s point of view

Ask rather than demand

Choose language carefully 

Be kind and generous to your child/ren’s other parent, they love them

Your children are watching how you behave towards someone they love and they are learning about relationships. Be a good example despite how you feel about your ex.

This ‘lock down’ will end, it has the potential to transform your co-parenting relationship with your ex forever. 

Think of the very positive effect this will have on your child/ren’s mental health, their ability to grow up and have loving relationships themselves and be the best parents they can.

Useful Resources

You may like to read ‘My Ex Is Refusing To Let Me See My Kids’         

Also ‘How Do I Support My Moody Teenagers’

Our Recommended Books section has lots of resources for supporting parents and children.

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