The challenges of parenting after parents separate


Parenting is challenging at the best of times. Children need a loving environment in which their parents set shared boundaries, which allow children to feel safe to challenge and explore those boundaries.

Happily married couples will have discussions and disagreements about their children. However if parents have a good relationship, they will be able to negotiate agreed solutions and present a common front to their children. In that way they provide their children with secure boundaries against which to push.

From the child’s point of view the problems start when they find themselves able to manipulate the boundaries which have been set by their parents; children can then start “to divide and rule”, and enter a terrifying world in which their parents are no longer able to provide the secure boundaries the children need.

When parents are separated, parenting becomes more challenging. If nothing else, there are less opportunities for the parents to discuss problems together and agree solutions. All too often the parents find conversations of any sort difficult and misunderstandings and mistrust multiplies. Their children find themselves caught in the middle, loving and wanting to please both their parents. Sometimes the children inadvertently drive a wedge further between their parents by, for example, telling each parent what they each want to hear. Gone are the mutually agreed and secure parental boundaries that the child needs and in their place the uncertainties of being caught between parents who appear (from the child’s perspective) to hate each other.

Family Mediation is able to support separated parents by providing them with a safe and structured environment in which they can discuss the problems they face. The mediator can provide support, information and encouragement, and challenge parents to look again at the ways they can co-parent their children more effectively and together provide the love and security their children need.

For more information visit or call Cheltenham Mediation Services on 01242 220601.

photo credit: DarkB4Dawn via photopin cc