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During my time as a teacher and headteacher I have seen a number of families struggle with the challenges associated with sharing custody of their children. Shared custody can be a difficult situation for all involved. The adults and children often struggle with a complex range of intense emotions. School staff often feel stuck in the middle, dealing with the emotional instability in the child and hearing different sides of the story from each parent while sometimes having to write sensitive reports for the court. Whether things are being handled formally through the court system or informally between the parties involved, Emotional Logic can help.
Schools where staff are trained in Emotional Logic will usually have an opportunity to work with the children involved. Once permission from the parents is given, the member of staff can use the Stepping Stone cards to help the child to clearly express their often confusing array of emotions surrounding the situation. The child always finds this process incredibly helpful; the chance to be given the time and opportunity to talk and explore how they really feel and to realise that what they feel is perfectly normal, understandable and ok.
Most parents are very keen to hear what their child has to say and the child in question will often speak more openly with a trusted member of staff than they would with a parent for fear of upsetting someone. For example, a very common issue that arises is ‘step parents’ or new partners. Often the child has to adapt to a new partner living with one of their parents. Time and time again I have heard children say something like this, ‘My mum’s new boyfriend is ok. He quite nice actually. I just miss having time alone with my mum. That used to be fun but now he is always there.’
A very common first step for children is discovering that they can actually influence the outcome of a situation, as long as they think carefully about their bargaining style. We can teach them how to bargain assertively, not aggressively or passively. Often the way forward for the child is to explore spending time alone with their parent every so often. A polite request in the form of a carefully written message or thought through conversation usually works and can be hugely effective in deepening relationships.
If you need help or support with difficulties surrounding shared custody of children or the careful introduction of new partners, please contact us for further information.
Written by Christiaan Stirling