Having children links you together as parents forever. The challenge is to make your relationship and communication as constructive as possible for the benefit of the children. Solid ground rules about how you communicate with each other and with your children are a good foundation for a parenting plan.
Family dispute resolution may be valuable in assisting you with communicating after separation. Below are key topics that you need to communicate about with your ex-partner in regards to your children.
How will you communicate?
Is it better to discuss matters in a regular meeting, by telephone, text messaging, email or other means? Use what has worked best in the past or try something new.
Agree on ground rules for respectful communication. For example, when is it ok to call each other and when is it not? What notice is reasonable if one of you has to change contact arrangements due to sickness or work commitments?
Religion, values and principles
It is useful to discuss some of the values and principles that you agree are important in bringing up your children. You can then document these as part of a parenting plan. Changing children’s names or religion are examples.
Major decisions, such as shifting house or moving schools affect your children greatly. The arrival of a new partner is another important adjustment for the children. You may agree to discuss these major decisions together before you finalise them. This may include making or changing wills and providing for guardianship in the case of death.
Contact with children while you are apart
Being separated means that your children are nearly always away from one of you. You need to keep the communication going even when you are not physically present. Children need to know you care. At the same time, you mustn’t make children messengers between you.
Grandparents can contribute enormously to the quality of life and emotional wellbeing of children. They may provide important support and stability in what may seem like a child’s uncertain world. Consider how grandparents will continue to play their part in the lives of your children.
Other relatives, in-laws and friends
When you split up it is easy to lose contact with relatives and significant family friends who provide support, encouragement and stability to your children. Think about how you can keep these relationships going.