It is so easy for professionals to tell you that communication is important but this does not acknowledge the possible pain and upset from the separation or how you might feel about the other party! Family mediation is a way of talking about those things if you need to so that you feel listened to. You are far more likely to behave in a co-operative way with your ex-partner if you have had the chance to air your hurt and frustrations in a safe environment away from the children.
Once the separation has happened, it is often difficult to have a conversation without falling into old arguments, behaviour patterns or apportioning blame. If this is difficult for you right now, you might find alternative methods of communication preferable, but there usually need to be a few rules. Because it is easy to misinterpret a text message, it can escalate the conflict. Rules you might find helpful:-
- Keep the communication about the children only
- No insults or bad language, however tempting
- Don’t send text messages late at night, especially if you have been drinking alcohol
- Let each other know if you are going to be late, even if it’s only a few minutes
- Don’t communicate in a public domain, like Facebook or Twitter until communication is no longer problematic
You might find email helpful if there is a lot of information to convey or timetables and shift patterns to exchange. If you feel telephone communication is possible, you might want a few rules whilst emotions are running high.
Sometimes, the only time parents communicate is on handovers. This might work okay but it runs the risk of getting into conflict if there are difficult issues to be discussed. If this is the case, you might suggest a separate time to communicate when the children are not present, for example.
All of these scenarios can be discussed in mediation.National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.