As you become a separated co-parent, you’ll have many decisions to make, now and in the future. This can seem daunting.
Involving children in decisions
You’ll probably find that some of your decisions as a parent will be great ones, based on good information and positive life experiences. Some will be a bit shaky. Some, later down the line, may prove to be ones you wish you hadn’t made.
You may find it useful to think about each decision with a short, medium and long-term view in mind. This can help you learn to trust yourself and stand by your decisions.
It’s important that you give every decision careful thought. You’ll also need to learn to make decisions with others.
Your children’s other parent
Wherever possible, parenting decisions are best made by you and your ex together.
You’ll often need to involve your children too. That’s essential when a decision directly affects your children, for example decisions about changing school or visiting their non-resident parent. But even when decisions don’t directly affect your children it can be good to involve them.
Unless your children are very young (babies and toddlers), you can include them in your decision-making thinking. This means that their ideas and views can help lead you to make good decisions. It doesn’t mean they actually make the decisions. That could be quite a burden for your children, however old they are.
Your children’s points of view can also help you to talk with their other parent.
Trust yourself by creating the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all of your life. (Lin Griffiths)
Explore the impact of your decisions
Try this exercise by changing the “decision” to one that you are making as a result of the separation.
Step 1: Imagine the reactions of your child if you do not involve them in this decision
Step 2: Take time to think how you would explain the reasons for the decision needing to be made and where possible talk to your ex about this too
Step 3: Ask your child to tell you what they think. Then ask them what worries them about the decision and what excites them about the decision.
The separation has meant that a change of school is necessary for your daughter aged 9. You have discussed this with your ex and have both decided which school would be best for her.
If you were to tell her the decision – can you imagine the reactions you might see?
If you explain the need for the change of school and take her to visit the new school, and then ask her what she thinks about it, what difference do you think that would make?
If you took it one step further you could invite her to think about what she will gain and what she will lose by changing schools and go through her list with her so that she felt heard and understood.
Content originally produced for What Next? The Parent’s Guide to Separation © Copyright DWP 2015
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Check your situation with our assessment tools
The process of answering the questions in each agreement builder should help you consider what outcomes are best for your children and both of you. They can form a useful starting point when discussing your situation with your ex-partner or a legal representative such as a solicitor.
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