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Protecting children from arguments

Much as you may not want to argue within sight or sound of your children, it can happen. Separation is a difficult time for everyone.

Protecting children from arguments

When I heard a friend say to their son, ‘You’re just like your dad, selfish and useless’, and I saw the little boy’s face, I realised that could be my son.

Provide reassurance

Even after your separation arguments can occur as the relationship you have with your children’s other parent changes. Grief, hurt, anger and other feelings can all make people behave in ways that they’d rather not.

In reality, you may not be able to protect your children completely from arguments or tensions. But you can let your children know that both you and their other parent still love them. You can also reassure them that any arguments they may have seen or heard aren’t their fault. 

Minimising arguments

You may find the following tips to minimise the likelihood of arguments helpful: 

  • Keep your relationship with your children’s other parent as businesslike as possible. Limit communication to parenting issues.
  • Shift conversations about the past. This avoids going over old ground or reopening old wounds.
  • Learn how to manage your own feelings and reactions.
  • Remember that you and your former partner may never agree on some issues. That’s quite probably why you separated in the first place.

It can help if you discuss these tips with your children’s other parent. 

Protecting your children

You should also expect your children to remain neutral. Imagine the conflict it can cause if they hear you putting their other parent down or if they are asked to act as a go-between.

If an argument becomes violent this has a serious long-term effect on your children. Remember too that if your children have witnessed violence or abuse, or seen its affects, they need to know that this isn’t acceptable behaviour.

Content originally produced for What Next? The Parent’s Guide to Separation © Copyright DWP 2015

Check your situation with our assessment tools

  • Agreement builder - Children

    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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  • Motivation checker - Children

    How you’re going to be effective co-parents apart is one of the most important things you’ll need to figure out. It can be one of the hardest issues – very emotive. This tool aims to give you a head start to managing this well. It will help you explore your own motivations and emotions, and be curious about where your ex may be coming from and what lies behind their ideas.

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  • Children's living costs

    Use this tool to do some basic calculations on day to day costs for your child/ren. This will help you when planning your next steps.

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