Mr and Mrs X had agreed an arrangement after they separated that involved their child spending time with each parent in their independent new homes.
A year later, Mrs X felt that the child, by then a teenager, would benefit more if the arrangement changed so the child was with Mrs X more. Mr X could see no reason to change – he supported the child in the week with homework and did not want time for the child to be with him to be limited to alternate weekends. What was not clear was whether what the parents said matched the child’s wishes and needs. The child was described as presenting differently with each parent.
A child or children are all too often caught in the middle of a divergence in parental views and/or poor or difficult communication between the parents. Some parents try to limit time or communication because it is difficult. Unfortunately this can increase the child’s awareness of parental conflict because the other parent complains and tries to force contact and communication.
Mediation enabled Mr and Mrs X to learn how to handle their differences better and improve their communication methods to benefit the child. By the parents listening to the child and recognising the importance of the child hearing positive messages about the other parent they in turn found it easier to identify if any changes in arrangements would benefit the child. Children can struggle to share their feelings with a parent when it exposes them to conflict. Sometimes a referral to a family therapist for the child to be supported and heard can help.