Going from parenting together to parenting apart is a huge step. It can be a very lonely step and one that throws up all sorts of challenges we did not anticipate.
To help with these challenges I have been working with the very talented Mette Theilmann from Parenting Success. She is a parenting coach with an extensive background in psychology. Her company, Parenting Success, supports mothers and fathers with everyday parenting challenges. They provide one-to-one help as well as delivering help in schools and running workshops. These are on such subjects as ‘parenting tweens and teens’ and ‘managing screen time’. They also run a workshop for parents where one parent has been diagnosed with cancer.
Together Mette and I run both a Separated Mums’ and a Separated Dads’ Group.
I attend our separated parents groups with two roles: as a mum who is divorced from my child’s father but also as a family lawyer with nearly 19 years of experience. Our Separated Mums and Separated Dads groups are fantastic opportunities for parents in a similar position to meet each other. Some of our parents have recently separated, whilst some have been on their own for many years. Some of our parents are relatively amicable with their ex whilst others are in the midst of bitter court proceedings. Some of our parents have older children whilst others have small babies and toddlers. Whatever stage of their lives our Mums and Dads are at, they can find it really helpful to know that someone else is going through the same thing. Some supportive relationships have developed as a result.
At each meeting Mette discusses a relevant topic. At a recent Dads’ Group, the theme was better communication with ex-partners. Mette had some really helpful tools and ideas to make meetings with the other parent less emotional, more productive and more child-focussed. Amongst other things, Mette suggested treating meeting as a business meeting and always having an agenda.
Our first separated Mums’ group of 2018, meanwhile, was entitled ‘Become the best Mum you can be’. We looked at our current parenting styles and discussed the style we aspired to. When a child is suffering because of their parents’ separation there is a risk that we can overindulge them. To counter this Mette took us through what she called the ‘7Rs’:
- We need to be a good role model.
- We need to have rules to make our children to feel safe.
- We need to have routines to make our children feel calmer.
- We need to give our children responsibilities so they feel valued and important.
- We need to consider our response to them and to listen, understand and accept their feelings.
- We need to build on our relationship with our children to make them feel valued.
These groups are all about becoming better parents and more child-focussed. If you feel you would benefit from attending please feel free to get in touch.
Emma Newman is the Managing Partner at Stowe Family Law’s Esher Office.
She is a Resolution Accredited Family Law Specialist with accreditations in Financial Provision and Children’s Law. Throughout her career Emma has acted for clients on all aspects of family law. Her particular area of expertise is dealing with financial disputes and applications to vary maintenance orders.
Having been through a divorce herself Emma is acutely aware of the practical and emotional issues her clients face and is passionate about ensuring her clients are fully supported throughout their legal journey.