Building a new parenting relationship - the basics

All the evidence suggests that the children who adjust best to life after family separation are those that are able to maintain strong, positive relationships with both parents.


If you are able to establish a business-like relationship with your child’s other parent, it will help your child feel safe and loved. It will also mean that your child is less likely to suffer emotionally and psychologically.


Accept that your child’s other parent still has a role

  • It can be difficult to establish a workable relationship with your child’s other parent if you they have hurt you or let you down
  • Whatever has happened in your relationship, it's important to accept that you are still both parents to your child
  • Try to focus on any positive things that the other parent can offer your child rather than the things they are less good at


Improve your communications

  • It is vital that you find ways to communicate - failure to do so can put your child at risk.
  • Good communication will help to build trust between you
  • Pass all the important information about your children between you including school, health, appointments, behaviour and reactions to the separation
  • If it's too difficult to talk to each other face-to-face, try using the phone, email or text
  • Don’t ask your child to communicate with their other parent on your behalf


Try to work together as much as possible

  • Your children will feel a great sense of security if they know that their parents are still working together for their wellbeing
  • It is not necessary to like each other to work together – aim for a respectful business-like parenting relationship
  • Small acts of collaboration can improve things between you and give your children a sense of security and continuity


Set minimum standards and be ‘good enough’ parents

  • It can be difficult to reach agreement about many things after separation
  • Mothers and fathers tend to provide care in different ways – this can lead to arguments about whose way is better
  • Agree some basic rules that you will both stick to around things like behaviour, diet, bed time, the amount of TV allowed etc.
  • Beyond these minimum standards, accept that the other parent is doing a ‘good enough’ job


Keep your children out of any disputes

  • Try not to argue in front of your children
  • Try not to make negative comments about their other parent in front of the children
  • Never block parenting time as a way of exerting control
  • Never withhold financial support for your children as a way of exerting control


Trouble shooting

  • Agree ways to resolve difficulties as soon as possible if and when they arise
  • Find ways of saying if you are unhappy about something that reduces the risk of conflict
  • Seek help and support if you need it
  • Be prepared to make mistakes at times – don't let that stop you working together around your children's best interests