I’ve been very busy recently seeing children whose parents are in the mediation process trying to find the best solutions for the family. I wonder if this increase in demand is as a result of us understanding how tough things are for young people right now as a result of the pandemic and a better focus on emotional health and wellbeing? Things are especially tough for young people who are dealing with their parents separation in the midst of a global pandemic where (up until recently) they haven’t had any release at school, with their friends, releasing emotions through playing, running or enjoying a stay over with their grandparents or just having a change of scenery from a family home which may be filled with sadness and stress.
I welcome this increase because it is an area of work I am so passionate about. I see the value in working with children and this gives me the greatest job satisfaction. There is no greater feeling than seeking how children are when they arrive at their meeting with me versus how they leave. A feeling of relief, a sense of lightness, release of burdens, self importance and valuing the opportunity to express how they feel.
Children are unique. We know this. Yet, routinely when parents separate, legal advisors and parents routinely make arrangements for children on separation without considering their individually needs. I also still hear terms such as ‘the children’ or worse still ‘my child/children’ rather than considering each of those children by name and recognising they have two parents who both want the best for them.
When you are in a dispute or a state of upset or conflict it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. You want the best for your children but how do you get to a place where you both agree? That is where working with a professional can be so much value to you but most importantly to your children.
So this blog is focusing on those young people and what I have learnt from being privileged to work with them. After 20 years working with families on separation I am still amazed by how much I can learn from spending just an hour with a young person in the midst of their parents separation.
Here are a few of my observations:-
They are brilliantly unique.
They know much more than we give them credit.
They hear the arguments. They worry secretly.
They do not want to hear you arguing.
They want the best for both of you.
They love you both.
They want to feel heard but not to feel pressure
or responsibility for making decisions.
They want you to take on this responsibility.
They want quality time. Rarely do they talk about time with their parents
by reference to counting down days or nights spent but what they do,
how much fun they have and what they enjoy.
Siblings of all ages vary in what they want. They rarely want the same thing
or share the same idea as to what arrangements might work best for them.
Other family members like their pets are important to them.
They miss them when they are away from the home.
They do not want either of their parents to talk badly of the other.
This makes them sad.
In mediation I take the time to really find out about your children. I call it disclosure and liken it to when you are considering a financial plan. You wouldn’t make a plan without finding out what is in your pot by exchanging detailed financial information and seeking expert information so why wouldn’t you do the same for the most important people to you?
To find out more about the child focused services I offer and how I may be able to help you and your children, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for a chat.