Today’s guest post is by Lisanne Iriks, a professionally trained Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, Mediator and Coach, and founder of LIFE Mediation. Lisanne is passionate is particularly committed to minimising the impact of separation and conflict on children. Visit www.lifemediation.com.au for more.
Separation is not a topic that people like to talk about but separation happens a lot these days. According to the Australian Bureau of statistics around 1 in 4 of our children will experience parental divorce or permanent separation before the age of 18.
The good news is that it does not have to be a horrible experience for your children. Naturally, children want their parents to be together, but being separated without conflict is better for your children than staying together and experiencing lots of conflict. Many parents worry about the impact of separation on their baby, but it is not a good idea to stay together for the sake of the baby.
You can reduce the impact of separation on your baby with attachment. Early attachment experiences shape approaches to relationships in the future and the key to attachment is attunement from the parents toward the child.
Your baby won’t spend time with both parents every day like it used too. So how can you help your baby to maintain strong attachment relationships after you have separated?
- Respond to your baby’s need in a responsive affectionate way
- Give your baby enough time with both parents on a regular basis, this might be challenging when the mother breastfeeds for example. For a very young baby aim for at least 3 visits with the parent that is not the primary carer every week but for a short amount of time with a maximum of 3 hours.
- Work together to allow your child to develop a secure relationship with each parent.
The attachment between both parents and the child can suffer as a result of any emotional negativity, inconsistent structure within and across homes and rejection and loss that can often occur soon after separation/divorce. It won’t necessarily be easy to work together and provide this for your baby straight after separation so ask the help that you need from family, friends and professionals to work things out. It is worth it and your child will benefit from it.