International Youth Day: Co-Parenting and Communicating with Children
The 12th of August marks International Youth Day, an initiative that celebrates the qualities of young people and recognises the challenges that today’s youth can face. The theme of International Youth Day 2020 is “Youth Engagement for Global Action”. This engagement is not only on a local or national level but begins within the family home.
Meaningful youth engagement is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respected partnership between young people and adults. This engagement is important at any time with your children, but it becomes essential upon the breakdown of a relationship between the children’s parents when the child is thrust into a lot of unknowns.
It is often difficult to know what to discuss with children upon the breakdown of a relationship between their parents however it is important that these conversations are had. Whilst children should not be embroiled in any dispute between their parents, it is essential that they are engaged in conversations suitable to their age to explain the changes happening in their lives, so they do not harbour any worries or guilt surrounding the separation of their parents.
It is also important to engage your child in any conversations about how co-parenting may work, for example who the child would like to live with, how often they would like contact, etc. Again, this is largely dependent upon the child’s age and ability to express their feelings, but this is a key consideration of the Court should any issue result in legal action. If you have a young child, their opinion can be reviewed as they grow older and can express their wishes more succinctly.
Children can also be involved in any forms of mediation you attend. This may allow them to express any questions they have about what is going on and their views regarding what they want moving forward. Children may feel conflicted speaking with either parent and a neutral third party mediator can help ensure that the child is engaged in a supportive environment.
The message is that you must listen to your children and also shield them from conflict wherever possible.
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