As lots of children and young people have returned to school with mixed feelings; glad to see some of their friends but a little resistant to a more structured day with some pressure on them to demonstrate learning and not playing Fortnite through the day!
For some children and young people though, school is their safe place where they can feel secure and not at risk of harm. For these youngsters being at home all the time may have caused a lot of distress. Living in a family where conflict between adults is a regular scenario, children and young people can become fearful and hyper vigilant, constantly on high alert, scanning for danger or anything that might pose a threat.
When parents are locked in regular battles, they can forget the profound effect their conflict is having on their children. So absorbed are they in the breakdown of their own relationship, they may find it impossible to give any time to the consequences of their difficulties on the children of the family.
The media has recently been full of stories of relationship breakdown, adults and children’s mental health issues and the pressure that has been put upon families in lockdown. If relationships were already ‘strained’ it would seem that having to spend unprecedented amounts of time together inevitably is the straw that breaks the camels back.
As the family will have been together for much of the time over the last few months, unfortunately, children may well have been more exposed to any parental conflict. Whilst some of the young people may seem to take it in their stride, others may demonstrate distress more visibly. Either way I would strongly encourage parents to check in on the children, whatever their age, just to see if they are ready to discuss any concerns or questions they might have about the family situation.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to get children and young people to engage in difficult conversations, but just try to remain patient, curious and empathetic, they will usually talk when they feel ready. Offer what reassurances are available about what is going on between parents, but don’t overload them with too much information and keep detail to the minimum.
If it feels like there is no one else to turn to, please try and avoid leaning too much on older children. I know there may be a huge temptation to do so, but their role isn’t to offer emotional support to either parent when they are in conflict. If they are asked to do so, it will invite feelings of disloyalty and put undue pressure on them, the children might feel they are taking sides.
If you need any further information or assistance in any Family Law matters please do not hesitate to contact our specialist Family Law team at David Lee Solicitors on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 01926 852188
Written by Martin Large 11th September 2020.