A recent article in The Guardian quoted a Tiger Woods interview in Time magazine, where he said that his children knew ‘they have two loving parents that love you no matter what.’ Unfortunately, many children do not hear that message, or see it in action, particularly during divorce or relationship breakdown. Children often get sucked into their parents’ conflict if parents are unable to keep their grief and anger in check, the result being a childhood defined by conflict, tension and sadness. The effects of divorce or separation on children are not so much from the divorce itself, but from how parents’ handle it. The old adage ‘action speaks louder than words’ is never truer than when applied to children’s needs; that parents should show their love through their actions, not just through their words.
The message is clear from many organisations and charities in the field – for the sake of the children, parents have to behave like grown-ups. Family mediators understand that this is easier said than done, but choosing a path that promotes communication as a way to solve differences, rather than a process that drive parents further apart, should be a step in the right direction. Family Mediation keeps children at the centre, helping parents to make suitable arrangements whilst ensuring the focus remains on the children.
Research shows that children fare better during and after divorce or separation where parents work together co-operatively and limit their children’s exposure to conflict. Family Mediation can help parents to develop a positive co-parenting relationship, and put a plan of action in place to deal with many of the issues that parents may have to face when parenting apart.