Kate Stovold reflects on the challenges for separating parents and the benefits of the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).
I recently attended the informative and thought provoking evening with Dr Aric Sigman, an American Chartered Psychologist and experienced lecturer on PSHE health education for school pupils, parents and medics; see news post here.
With prevention of mental illness in children and young adults being a focus for the evening, and the need for parents to adopt a proactive yet instinctive approach to their parenting, I reflected on the difficulties facing separating / separated parents.
Where the family unit is strong, parents can work together to battle the potential issues discussed with Dr Sigman, whether body confidence, screen time addiction, alcohol, lack of sleep etc. Parents can aim to present a united front and encourage, support and nurture their child as best as possible.
It is, unfortunately, more difficult for separated parents, not least because they are trying to present the united front from two homes, rather than one.
It is complicated further when separated parents have different parenting styles (which may have been a factor in the breakdown of the relationship), perceive problems to be of varying severity and cannot communicate effectively between themselves.
These are barriers to effective co-parenting.
How then can separated parents facilitate a more joined up approach? What if they need help to improve their communication skills and their ability to work together as parents notwithstanding potential animosity and entrenched conflict and dislike?
Reflecting further, I considered the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).
The SPIP is a course aimed at separated parents and is designed to help parents understand how to prioritise children during the separation and beyond. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of managing conflict and difficulties. There is a focus on better communication between parents and how this can be channelled to assist mother and father recognise the best interests of the child(ren).
Positive communication is a key ingredient to any relationship, whether mother and child, father and child, between parents, teacher and student, lawyer and client.
When parents can improve their communication, it is fair to assume that co-parenting becomes easier as a result. The hope therefore is that separated parents can be equally well placed to support their child with any concerns or worries. A united front from two different angles.
It is therefore no surprise that when the Court is asked to intervene and adjudicate the arrangements for children from separated families, the Judge will often direct the parents’ attendance on the SPIP.
The SPIP (and similar courses with similar aims and objectives) can be sourced privately too.
Mediation is another option available to separated parents who may need to agree living arrangements for their children, or who want to address a specific issue that has arisen during the family breakdown or as a result of that breakdown. To find out more about mediation, click here.
Within mediation, there is an option for the child to have a voice. This can be beneficial for older children, particularly if they feel torn by divided loyalties. Family counselling and family therapy can also facilitate the ‘voice of the child’.
For more general advice about child arrangements, you can contact Kate Stovold at [email protected]