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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
I have just been reading an article in the Guardian on how to survive your ex taking your children on holiday and it has brought home to me how many of the people that I speak to struggle with a myriad of emotions when they have to face this.
It would be naive of me to believe that separated parents should take this in their stride and not feel any anxiety or acrimony when entrusting their child to their ex-partner especially when they may be taking them to the other side of the world. If however, ex-partners could consider that bad partners don’t always make bad parents it might be helpful, especially when they have to manage the idea of their child spending one or two weeks away with the non-resident parent.
The chances are that a holiday with Dad will be different from a holiday with Mum; research shows that Dads play a different role in children’s lives from the role that Mums play, which is why it is important for children to maintain a relationship with both parents if possible. Dads are more likely to encourage children to take part in more adventurous activities like water skiing, rock climbing and diving and although I am aware I’m generalising, this hypothesis is backed up by research. So if you are a Mum sending the kids off for a two week break with Dad try to be pleased that he may be able to offer them a different experience to the holiday you can offer them, but that the children will more than likely enjoy both and both holidays will be of equal value.
If you are concerned that your ex-partner will not look after the children as diligently as you do, just give your children some age appropriate tips on staying safe without alarming them or projecting any of your own anxieties on to them. Make sure they know the name of the place they are staying and if possible a parent’s phone number just in case they get lost. Some children wear some form of identity jewellery so a parent can be contacted if they have wandered away from them. Try to stay positive when talking to the children about a holiday with their other parent, they will no doubt be looking forward to it so try not to let any residual feelings of animosity influence what you say about their forthcoming adventure.
I recently spoke to a young person who told me that she always felt that she couldn’t say anything positive about the time spent away with the other parent, in fact she felt she needed to be critical of the time spent with Mum or Dad in order to appease the other parent - even if that meant she had to make something up! I would like to think that for most parents the thought of exposing their child to this would be unacceptable.
I would advise any parent who is left at home when the kids are on holiday with their ex to organise some treats for themselves, distract yourself from worrying thoughts by giving yourself a nice time. By looking after yourself you will be better equipped to look after your children on their return.
If you would like any advice please contact our Family team.