Children as Winners - The best parent is both parents - Family Law Partners

Children as Winners – The best parent is both parents

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Following Lisa Burton-Durham’s excellent blog post on ‘Child Custody’, I was keen to write something in response, from my experience as a therapist working in schools and at the University of Sussex with young people whose parents have been through separation and divorce.

Kim Crewe


When I met up with one of my recent clients James to talk about his plans to get married, it was hard to believe he was the same person I saw at the University counselling service five years previously. James at 19yrs was depressed and directionless, he was having difficulty in forming relationships. His parents separated when he was five, his dad left the family home to live with another woman. He described how his mum’s world ended at that moment; she was very anxious and hated him going to stay at his dad’s, James felt he was expected to look after her and his younger sister. James felt very loyal to his mum and didn’t want to upset her further so he pretended he didn’t like it at his dad’s house and would hide in the house on the days he was supposed to visit.


As adults we know that for children (unless there any extreme circumstances) it is really important for them to have contact with both parents. But managing the transition between families is not always easy.

There are a number of ways to enable your children to move between families with ease:

  • Get support for yourself, the more you can manage your own stress the more available you will be to look after your children.
  • Ensure your child doesn’t feel weighted down by secrets.
  • Children naturally want to please and look after their parents, notice when this is happening and reassure them that they don’t need to do this.
  • Show the child you have confidence in the other parent to manage the child’s worries.
  • Encourage and give them the confidence that they can manage the transition to the other parent. Your task is to help them become independent, e.g. putting themselves back to sleep, toilet training.
  • Try not to get your feelings confused with your child’s, your child is a separate human being from you.
  • Remember there is no special entitlement you have over your child, the aim must be to make the experience as smooth as possible for them.
  • Be alert – for example, notice if your child has physical symptoms (e.g. a stomach ache) when moving to the other parent.

My key piece of advice is not to forget that most children are eager to see the other parent. This alone means that it’s in the child’s interests (and yours as a parent) to limit the emotional impact and keep things as stress-free as possible.

If you would like to talk through any issues please contact:

Kim Crewe
Family Consultant and Counsellor
The Crescent Practice
01273 711051

All names have been changed.

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