Family Lives offers support to parents over the New Year period who are facing conflict issues and considering separation or divorce

Charity Family Lives is bracing itself over the late December and early New Year period for an increase in contact to its support services from parents/adult carers going through separation or experiencing conflict issues with current or ex-partners and the wider family.

The organisation’s statistics show that between 1st November 2014 – 31st January 2015, Family Lives received contact from parents on 6050 occasions (via email, helpline and live chat) regarding emotional and mental health issues, compared to 5821 between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14. 

1725 calls were made from parents concerning divorce and separation (compared to 1212 between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14). 1246 parents/adult carers contacted the charity with questions pertaining to Family Law (compared to 1123 between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14) and issues between partners relating to relationship conflict equated to 436 contacts to the charity (down from 536 previously between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14). 

1444 calls were from adults expressing worry about the emotional and mental health of their children (1422 previously between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14). Contact was made from 901 parents unsure about whether leaving a partner or currently divorcing was affecting their child/ren (792 between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14) . 1035 calls between 01/11/2014 and 31/01/15 concerned teenage behaviour in the home (down from 1044 between 1st/11/13 - 31/01/14).

Suzie Hayman, Relationship Expert, Agony Aunt and Family Lives Trustee said:

“The aftermath of Christmas and the dawning of a New Year can be a real pressure point for parents, especially if relationships aren’t good. If you are experiencing conflict you could contact Family Lives to make sure you are supported to find a way of communicating and working together for the sake of any children in the middle. Warring partners should seriously consider mediation services to explore whether differences can be discussed and resolved.  It’s not just what’s convenient for the parents – children need to be happy with the arrangements too.”

Every year, Family Lives receives thousands of calls to its free confidential helpline 0808 800 2222 from separated parents struggling to make contact and relations with a former partner work.

The organisation offers some tips for families undergoing change over the festive and New Year period below:

  • Put the children first. As we often say, love your children more than you hate each other. Children deserve to enjoy themselves over the New Year period and not feel their loyalties are torn between different parts of their family. Focussing on your child’s needs may even help you cope better with the difficulties you have with each other.
  • Planning and good communication are the key to the success of mediation and resolving relationship difficulties. Children will feel happier if they know what is going to happen in advance.
  • Make the time over the New Year special and make the most of the situation. Ensuring your ex and your children are in contact with each other is  important to them, and can also give you time off to see friends and recharge batteries.
  • Remember as your children get older they will want to be involved in the planning of any future contacts and may want time to see their own friends and do their own thing as well.

Handling children’s distress

Children show their distress about family breakup in all sorts of ways. Help your child by:

  • Asking how they feel and what their worries are
  • Involving other family members and friends to help listen to and support them
  • Explaining why if something can’t be sorted out the way they’d like
  • Understanding if children want to talk to someone outside of the family, or a helpline
  • Acknowledging they can’t always tell you how they feel
  • Suggesting places where they can get support

Mediation

For further help, try local mediation services, such as National Family Mediation. Other members of the family may want to help but this can sometimes make things more complicated. A trained impartial mediator can help you to manage this process. If you're separating or divorcing from your partner, family mediation may be able to help you make arrangements for children and finances.

Visit Family Lives for support www.familylives.org.uk  

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Notes to editors:

For interviews and media enquiries, email press@familylives.org.uk