Any divorce can be stressful and emotional, but when young children are involved that can amplify the stress levels exponentially.
Instead of just being a negotiation between two parties – who in many cases are still on relatively amicable terms – the situation becomes a three-way negotiation, and only becomes even more complex if you have more than one child.
Some separating couples try to reduce this complexity by making the decisions on behalf of their children when it comes to things like residency, visiting rights and so on – but that is not necessarily the best approach.
Time and time again, research shows that children experience divorce more negatively when they are not involved, and when they are not given the opportunity to express their views on their own future.
Child-inclusive mediation is a great way to make some of those difficult decisions, without ignoring the opinions of the children involved.
Mediators are adept at keeping discussions moving forwards – it’s what we do when divorcing couples are not on amicable speaking terms or reach an impasse over a particular issue.
But it’s also an excellent skill when attempting to reconcile the different views of both separating parties plus their children, into a single plan that can be taken forward for a happier future for all.
It’s hard to know how your child feels about your impending divorce unless you ask them – and sometimes speaking to a mediator is easier than speaking honestly to a parent.
Some children respond to divorce by misbehaving in the home or at school, or both. Others might even be relieved that their unhappy parents have taken a step forwards to resolve a difficult home life.
The important point is, unless you involve your child in the process, you won’t know exactly how they feel about the decisions you are making, but child-inclusive mediation can make sure you are aware while there is still time to make changes to their future living arrangements and the time they spend with each parent.
We tend to talk about younger children, as they are often the most likely to be ignored in discussions, but child-inclusive mediation can include older children too, such as teenagers, or even adults who are still living in the parental home or rely on your support financially.
Remember, your divorce is likely to disrupt your living situation and your finances considerably – so even if it’s just a quick meeting with each grown-up child, mediators can make sure everyone is comfortable with the process and what it means for you as their parents going forwards.