We are family

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, recent research shows that it is not a set family structure that matters the most, it’s responsible, committed and stable parenting by people who genuinely care about the child that helps children get the best start in life.

There may however be additional factors to take into account if your family situation is changing.

When parents part

No matter what age kids are, if you divorce or separate, the change will have an impact. But if you handle the break-up sensitively they will cope. It’s vital to talk to kids about the separation in words they will easily understand.

They need to know that both of you still love them and will continue to be involved in their lives.

Tips for separating parents

  • Before you part, make plans for sharing parenting in the future. It’s important the parent who is leaving has a clear, defined role.
  • If you can’t talk to each other, it’s a good idea to get outside help with solving practical problems.
  • Keep in touch with both sets of grandparents.
  • Make sure you inform your tot’s nursery and other groups.
  • Try to keep your kids’ daily life as familiar and stable as possible. Stick to their routines and have a consistent approach to discipline and treats.
  • Be prepared for your tot to revert to more babyish behaviour for a time.

One on one

It can be very tiring when there’s no one else to share the responsibility, especially when there are big decisions involved. It’s important to make time for yourself and get the emotional support you need and the practical, financial support you may be entitled to.

Smart tips for lone parents

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • Try to get out of the house regularly.
  • Get your child used to being looked after by other people so they don’t become overly dependent on you alone.

A step in time

Being a step-parent is a minefield, and any two homes will have different expectations and rules. Building relationships takes time; if you’re a stepparent, find things you can do with the child so you can get to know each other. Parents should spend time alone with their tot and talk about what’s going on and how they feel about it.

Remember it can be hard being a parent 24/7 so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are still anxious at times.

Last updated: 9 April 2019