Family Separation:
What Helps and What Hurts Children

FMN - Family Mediation Network - LogoEvery separating parent worries about their children: how will they cope and adjust, is there a right and a wrong way to talk to children and when is the best time to have this difficult conversation. Two local family mediators, Maura McKibbin and Nicki Tiernan from Family Mediation Network, are running ‘Parenting Apart’ – free, monthly information meetings in south Manchester which offer guidance and support.

Maura McKibbin|Family Mediation Network

Maura-McKibbin, family mediator, FMN

Maura explains, “95% of children surveyed say that their parents gave them little or no information about separation or divorce. It is a conversation that most parents dread, wanting to find the right words and often still struggling with their own feelings about their separation.

Parents have to manage the conversation differently dependent upon their children’s ages and levels of maturity. Children need an honest, age specific, non-blaming explanation. If left in the dark , they will find a way to explain the situation to themselves and the conclusions they may reach won’t be based on logic or reason and can lead them to blame themselves. “

Nicki Tiernan|Family Mediation Network

Nicki Tiernan, family mediator, FMN



Timing for this conversation is very important,” adds Nicki. “Once parents have made a firm decision and there is no going back then they should talk to children. Ideally it is a conversation both parents would have with their children together (although this is not always possible) giving a clear, direct and non-blaming message.”

The key messages children need to hear:

  • they cannot fix it;
  • they still have a family even though their family will look different;
  • it is an adult decision and not their fault;
  • mum and dad will do everything they can to work together to make things ok;
  • mum and dad love them and that love shared between a parent and a child never ends;
  • they can ask questions when they are ready and that mum and dad will do their best to answer;
  • it is ok to feel sad or angry and that mum and dad will always find time to listen.
Nicki and Maura offer family mediation and collaborative advice to separating parents in south Manchester ( Call 0161 439 5286 to book a free information meeting.

South Manchester Meeting Dates and Venues

Wednesday 15/01/2014 – Bramhall
Thursday 23/01/2014 – Altrincham
Tuesday 11/02/2014 – Bramhall
Tuesday 25/02/2014 – Altrincham
Monday 10/03/2014 – Bramhall
Tuesday 25/03/2014 – Altrincham

All meetings start at 6pm

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What Helps and What Hurts Children

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