A separation or divorce is one of the most traumatic times for all involved. Where possible keeping emotions out of the new ‘co-parenting’ relationship is vital for family relations going forward. Wells Family Mediation have shared this letter, which is given out as part of the ‘Restored Lives Course’ with the Fegans’ community as a way of practical guidance. Coming to an agreement at the beginning will be helpful for both parties. You can copy and paste this letter as a guide to starting your new parenting journey.
I am writing about our children. Whatever our thoughts are about each other, our children have never asked for this to happen. My hope is that we can put aside our issues and still be good parents to them even though we will live apart.
The issue for us is how do we shift from being parents who live together, to being separate adults who share the parenting role successfully? To start this process I have put down my thoughts below but I would welcome your comments or additional ideas so that we can agree on the way that we share our parenting roles for the benefit of the children.
- It would be good if we could tell them together that we are separating. We can tell them that this is not their fault, that we both love them and that they will be spending lots of time with both of us.
- Let’s commit to be respectful about each other in front of the children. I recognise that they love you and the best thing for them is for me not to make unkind comments about you to them. I will find opportunities to talk about you in a positive way with them. Let’s try and stop others, like our parents or friends, from being disrespectful about either of us in front of the children.
- When we are in conflict about something, let’s deal with it privately and not in front of the children.
- At times of handover, let’s be polite and friendly to each other as these can be stressful moments for everyone.
- When they are with me, I will not ask the children for information about you or your life as it’s not fair for them.
- Let’s make sure that we communicate directly with each other about their arrangements and their needs so that we never use them as the communication link between us.
- Please can we try and agree similar house rules or boundaries together? We may not always agree, but at least then we can tell them that we’ve spoken about it and that we know something’s allowed in one of our homes, and not the other. My hope is that they will experience us parenting together in this way, and will not be able to play us off against each other.
- Can we try and attend some school events together and sit next to each other at parents’ evenings or school plays/matches etc? I know that children appreciate this enormously it if we can manage it in a polite way.
- We will have a lot of arrangements to sort out, for example when they spend time with us both. It won’t always be easy and we won’t always agree, but I will commit to listen to you and do my best to be constructive and polite in finding solutions to any disagreements. Let’s agree to try and find solutions that work for both of us rather than allow any language of winning or losing.
- You share responsibility with me for our children and therefore, if any serious difficulties or challenges arise, I will discuss these issues with you rather than turn to others. Even though we have separate personal lives I will make the effort to communicate with you about these issues straight away.
If we both follow this agreement, I believe that it will give our children a good hope for their future. I hope that we can agree on the way forward for our parenting and, for my part, I will commit to putting all this into practice. I look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts.
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