The Future of Children on the Breakdown of a Relationship

The ending of a relationship nearly always brings sadness and often regrets. Any sensible adult will want to spend time reflecting on what went wrong.

It is very unusual for the breakdown to be the “fault” of only one of the partners. Human relationships and the reason why they succeed or fail are much more complicated than that. Attributing “blame”, however natural and instinctive, rarely has a useful part in finding a solution to the problems which arise.

What is quite clear is that children in the relationship will be feeling the effects of the breakdown even more starkly than the adults.They will suffering a sense of loss from the departure of one of their parents, even if they still see that parent regularly. Children benefit from a routine and from being safe, emotionally and physically. From that security they have a better chance of thriving. Most parents want their children to have the best possible chance of being safe and to develop with the minimum emotional damage.

When a relationship breaks down, children often experience many emotions. Sadness at a change in what is familiar to them will be one experience. Similarly, from the age of about 5, it is very common for children to feel that they have in some way caused the change in the situation at home; they can feel guilty. They think such things as “If I hadn’t been so naughty, Mummy wouldn’t have been cross with me “ or “I should have said goodnight to Daddy and then he would have loved me more and wouldn’t have left”. Adults know that these thoughts are rarely true but children do not.

It is essential, for the good of the children, that the parents try to work together to explain to the children that the change is not their fault. It is also important that neither parent criticises the other parent to the children. That will merely drive a wedge between the parents, with the children feeling an uncomfortable and painful split in their loyalties, which they will not be able to understand.

When we are consulted by a parent after the breakdown in a relationship, it is often because the parents are having difficulty in reaching an agreement concerning the arrangements for the children.

We will always talk through the background to what has happened so that the advice we give is directly relevant to the situation confronted by these parents. We treat every case as unique to these parents and to these children.

If you want to talk through a “contact” problem contact Ian Mcardle. Ian is a five year qualified solicitor with substantial experience of conducting almost all his own advocacy, running a case from initial hearing to final hearing where Court proceedings are necessary. All of our advice workers and Solicitors handle “contact” and “residence” problems.

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