What does mediation offer children?
When we're wrestling with the pain and grief of separation, we can easily forget the anguish that it causes for our children.
Children manage separation in different ways. Some can react with anger and distress, and some may tell you about their fears or sadness, others may withdraw and worry silently about what's happening.
It's important to listen to them. They need your comfort and reassurance, and they need to know that you can work things out and that life will slowly feel better.
Some children blame themselves for their parent’s separation if they see their parents constantly fighting about time with them or about money for sports or school, they can feel that they're always causing the trouble for you so it's important to reassure them that nothing to do with separation is their fault and that and to talk to them about what's happening in an age-appropriate way.
Children need to feel loved by both of you and they need you both to be involved in their lives.
Under the family law act the children have the right to a secure and meaningful relationship with both of you and to be safe physically and psychologically.
Parental conflict can be corrosive and harmful especially when children are young both parents are such towering figures in their lives. It's not only frightening to see them fighting it's like needing to choose sides in a war.
One of your most important tasks is to separate how you feel about your ex-partner from how your children feel about that parent and the relationship they want to have with them.
When things are difficult the best thing you can do is to have clear agreements be reliable and keep changeovers civil.
The worst thing you can do is to put down and bad-mouth the other parent. Children are deeply loyal to both of you, the two people they love most in their world. So, if you think you can't say anything positive about your ex-partner it's best not to say anything at all.
What mediation can offer is what children desperately need, a chance for parents to begin to listen to each other and to start to work out a parenting plan that allows these most important family relationships to continue to grow.
From birth to around 3, children have few words, and they are usually very dependent on their main caregiver. Especially when they're young it's ideal if children can spend time and communicate frequently with the parent who is not the main caregiver. Visits from this parent are often short but the routine of these visits and phone calls becomes a comforting rhythm in their lives.
Of course, arrangements vary with age. From around 3 to 5 children can begin to express their feelings more clearly and are ready to broaden their world. Overnight visits become possible especially if a secure consistent routine has already been built up from.
Around 5 to 8 they are in school making friends and socialising becomes important. They are loyal to both parents. It's ideal if both parents can have a mix of weekday and weekend time and be involved in their child's school life as well as their friendships, sports and hobbies.
From around 8 to 12 their peer groups become more important arrangements need to take into account children's activities and often busy schedules. Ideally these are supported by both parents. Teenagers are working towards independence and maturity. They may reject or align with a parent. Arrangements must be flexible, and parents must be prepared to adapt as these young adults make their wishes known.
Let us help you to build a detailed parenting plan that you can commit to and that supports your children to thrive.
Thank you for taking the time to watch these videos and learn about Broadmeadows Family Relationship Centre and the mediation process.
We are here to help you, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
For more information call (03) 9351 3700.