Tag Archives: separation

Long-Term High Conflict Separations Harming Parents and Children

Parenting NI has found that more than 80% of parents dealing with long-running, high-conflict separations describe themselves as worried, stressed and anxious. Similarly negative impacts have been found with children, including behavioural and physical issues.

Charlene Brooks, CEO of Parenting NI said:
“It is increasingly common for parents to call our helpline in a situation where they are still in conflict with their ex-partner a year after separation.

“The damage that parental conflict on this scale has on children can be significant and can have serious negative implications. Parenting NI realises and understands that every family is different, and that most parents do not allow conflict to linger in this way.

“However, around 10-12% of parents unfortunately get stuck in intractable conflicts. There are lots of reasons why parents might fall into this situation and they may not realise how much of an impact the arguments have on their children.

“Research shows that the stress that is associated with parental conflict has a more harmful impact on children than the separation itself. Children whose parents remain in unresolved conflict are less likely to do well at school, have poorer interpersonal skills, lower overall wellbeing and less positive relationships with their parents.

“As difficult as it may be, we would encourage parents to think about how they manage conflict. Try not to criticize your ex-partner in front of your children and reassure them that the separation is not their fault. It is also important to remember that in most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to have a close, stable and ongoing relationship with both parents wherever possible.

“We are contacted daily by parents on both sides of the conflict, worried about not only the impact on their children but on their own mental health and wellbeing. Parenting NI is hoping to highlight the need to support parents to effectively manage separation in order to reduce the impact of lingering, high-conflict separations on children.”

Parenting NI has released a report, based on case studies and academic research outlining what dangers come from long term, active parental conflict.

Separation is the single most common cause for calls to the Parenting Regional Helpline. 35% of dads contacting the helpline contact us about separation. As a result of the amount of men contacting Parenting NI about separation the organisation recognised the need for specific support for separated dads. In the week of Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day (11th – 17th June), Parenting NI will launch the new Dads Project funded by Big Lottery Fund NI.

The Dads Project will promote dads being engaged and involved in their children's lives. The project will help dads to develop more confidence in their parenting ability and to build positive connections with other dads in a similar position in their community.

Contact Parenting NI

Give us a call on 0808 8010 722

Download the Full Report

Read more information here

Parenting Apart Belfast (Dads Only)

This programme is being delivered as part of the Dads Project and therefore is open to men only. Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund NI this is free for dads to attend.

Duration: Every Tuesday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

To register drop us a line to dadsproject@parentingni.org or call/text 07739466532. Alternatively you can complete an expression of interest below.

Strabane Parenting Apart Programme

The Families Together Project will be running the 6 week Parenting Apart programme, starting on Monday 23rd April.

Starts: Monday 23rd April
Time: 10 am – 12 noon
Duration: Every Monday for 6 weeks
Location: New Strabane Community Project Building, Barrack Street

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

To register to attend contact Clare on 078 2539 2136 or complete the online expression of interest.

Parenting Apart Workshop


FREE workshop for parents in Belfast for support with minimising the impact of separation and divorce on children

Following findings in our lastest research on separation and divorce in Northern Ireland, we will be hosting a workshop for parents to help support with this difficult issue.

This workshop will:

  • explore the challenges of parental separation
  • consider the factors that affect a child’s ability to adapt
  • offer tips to help parents manage their separation and adjust to their changing role as a parent

If you would like to register to come along complete the registration form below or call us on freephone 0808 8010 722. 

You must register to attend this workshop either by phone (0808 8010 722) or using the form below, but unlike our other programmes you will not receive a follow up call from our team if you complete the online form.

By completing the below form you will be registered on to the workshop and we look forward to welcoming you along on the 7th March.

Separation a Major Concern for Parents in NI

The impact of separation on children and young people is a major concern for parents in Northern Ireland. Local parenting support charity say separation issues are the single most common cause for calls to the Regional Parenting Helpline.

Hundreds of parents contact Parenting NI every year seeking support with separation, last year calls about separation and contact issues accounted for around 22% of all calls to the charity.

Parental separation and divorce is an increasingly common experience for adults and children. In 2016 Northern Ireland had 2,572 divorces which involved 1,935 children and young people aged 0-15. This is an increase on statistics from 2015 and does not account for a large number of parental separations where the parents never married.

Parenting NI are highlighting the need for parenting support to help parents manage separation effectively to reduce the impact on children and young people. Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive at Parenting NI, explains,

“Parenting NI understand that parents separate for many reasons and that it is one of the most high stress and difficult situations families experience. Despite the large number of children and young people affected, and the considerable impact on families and the state, there is a clear lack of policy to help support parents in order for them to be able to put their children and young people’s needs first.”

Charlene suggests there is an urgent need for policy makers to keep pace with the realities of this issue to ensure better outcomes for children and their families in Northern Ireland. In the consultation for the as-yet unpublished Children and Young People Strategy 2017-2027, family breakdown and parental separation is mentioned as an issue but gives minimal indication as to how to support parents to minimize its impact. Parenting NI say this is not good enough,

“Research is very clear that a poorly managed, high conflict separation is decidedly damaging for children and young people, therefore support for parents in managing this tense and difficult time needs to be high on the agenda.

The child’s voice is often lost amongst legal proceedings and whilst The Review of Family Justice by Lord Justice Gillen last year was heartening, it is disappointing that we are still in political deadlock hindering its implementation for the benefit of families across Northern Ireland.”

Parenting NI has a Parenting Apart programme specifically designed and proven to successfully support parents who have separated or are separating. Given the amount of calls the Regional Parenting Helpline receives in relation to this issue this is a programme which is in high demand. However, due to a lack of funding the programme has not been readily available to parents.

In order to meet the demand, the charity will be delivering a free Parenting Apart workshop for parents in Belfast on Wednesday 7th March from 6 to 8pm. The workshop will explore the challenges of parental separation, consider the factors that affect a child’s ability to adjust to the circumstances and offers tips to help parents manage their separation and adapt to their changing role as a parent.

Read the report

The Impacts of a Poorly Managed Separation: Parenting NI Research Note on Parental Separation and Divorce

Information/Interview Requests

Please email Emma Lyttle, Communications Officer or call 028 9031 0891.

Managing Christmas Stress

 

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year filled with lots of celebrations and fun for families, but it can also be very stressful for many parents. Parents can feel the pressure of managing their children’s expectations alongside managing the financial stresses that the time of year brings.

Local parenting support charity Parenting NI say that the pressures of meeting children’s expectations, managing children’s behaviour and dealing with separation make this time of year really difficult for a lot of families in Northern Ireland. The charity is encouraging parents to seek support if they are finding they are struggling to cope over the festive period.

Chief Executive at Parenting NI, Charlene Brooks said,

“There are a number of things Parenting NI would encourage parents to do to try and limit the stresses and expense of the holiday period. Expectations around Christmas are often high with so many putting an emphasis on the ‘perfect’ family Christmas. We would suggest to parents, as difficult as this can be, to not to get drawn into what others are spending or doing and do what is right for your family. Try to plan by writing a list of everything you need and setting a budget, most importantly, try and stick to your budget.

“Talk to your children about the value of things and explain that it’s not all about getting presents, that Christmas time is a good time to spend together and make memories. Good communication is so important within a family, if you are feeling the pressure don’t be afraid to ask for help. The less stressed you are as a parent, the less stressed your children will feel.

Separation is another big issue for a lot of families Parenting NI support, for parents who don’t have access to their children over the festive period it is particularly distressing and isolating. Parents who are struggling in general and / or want support with managing separation over Christmas please get in touch with Parenting NI on freephone 0808 8010 722.”


Separation at Christmas

Family breakdown is never easy, but for parents who are separated or separating Christmas can be a particularly difficult time. It can also be a very sad and frustrating time for parents who may not have access to their children. 

Communication is key when it comes to managing separation at any time but particularly at Christmas, and hopefully you will or have been able to come to an informal arrangement with your ex partner to enable you to see your children and spend time with them over the holidays.

Parenting NI understand that it can cause parents a lot of distress, so here are a few tips on coping with separation at Christmas:

Try not to worry about the “Perfect Family Christmas”
At Christmas we are bombarded with imagery which depicts what media portrays to be the ideal Christmas. It helps to remind yourself that there isn’t a perfect way to celebrate Christmas and try not to put any unrealistic expectations on yourself.

Make the most of the time you do have together
Any time that you do spend with your children over the holidays is special. Christmas shouldn’t be a competition between you and your ex where you try to outdo each other with presents for the children. Of course you will want to give your children gifts at Christmas but spending quality time together and having fun is just as important. This doesn’t have to mean expensive trips out either, doing crafts or playing games together at home is also great fun.

Put your children first
Regardless of your feelings towards your ex, try to think of what is best for your children. Research from family law organisation Resolution, found that 88% of children said it was important to them that their parents did not make them feel like they had to choose between their mum and dad. Whilst it is heartbreaking to not be seeing your child on Christmas Day try not to criticise the other parent too much in front of the children, no matter how angry you feel.

Don’t bottle up your feelings
Although it is important to remain positive for your children it is important for your own emotional wellbeing to have someone to talk to. If you are feeling upset and alone try talking to a family member or friend about how you feel. The Parents Regional Helpline will be available for periods during the holidays as well so if you would like a bit of support you can give us a call or chat to us on Web Chat. Details of opening hours can be found here.

If you don’t have access to your children over Christmas…
Make arrangements with your family or friends.  If anyone close to you is in the same situation, why not organise to see them; volunteer or invite them round for lunch so that you will not be by yourself. 

Parenting NI Welcomes Lord Justice Gillen’s Review of Family Justice

Parenting NI responds to Lord Justice Gillen’s review of civil and family justice, delivered at the Royal Court in Belfast.

Charlene Brooks, CEO of Parenting NI said,

“Parenting NI wholeheartedly welcomes the Lord Justice’s timely review of family justice. Obviously, this was a wide-ranging and detailed review but what is clear is the desperate need for reform of family justice.

The encouragement of mediation for separated parents as well as the general desire to avoid confrontational legal battles is to be welcomed. Parents have told us every day about the devastating effects such difficult proceedings have on themselves and on their children.

The recognition by the Lord Justice that the best way to ensure the safety and best interests of children are met is by supporting parents is heartening.

Regardless of the current political deadlock, I am calling on those in places of power to ensure this review does not sit collecting dust on a shelf. It needs to be implemented as soon as is practical to make an immediate impact on the lives of families.”

Media Enquiries

Contact Emma Lyttle, Communications Officer at Parenting NI on 028 9031 0891 or email.

Belfast Outcomes Parenting Apart


Thanks to funding from Belfast Outcomes Group this programme can be offered FREE to parents who live in Belfast.
Duration: Every Thursday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

Parenting Apart Belfast

Duration: Every Tuesday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need. Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on

Parenting Apart Belfast

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Duration: Every Wednesday for 6 weeks

The Parenting Apart programme is aimed at parents who have separated, are separating, divorced or thinking of divorce.

The programme will provide practical advice and guidance about what children need to know, and what parents can do to meet their children’s need.  Although parents are immersed in their own difficulties, this programme can help parents focus on the child’s needs with the aim of minimising the impact of the separation.

The programme explores:

  • Emotional impact
  • Parenting roles
  • Changes in relationships
  • Legalities
  • Financial impact
  • Moving on