Separation for any couple can be painful, but they must remember they are separating as a couple and not as parents. Well, this is most easy to say than to be put in practice, however, a healthy separation can become the most valuable gift for your child. This is exactly what heads of private schools in Sydney are advising or actually warning quarreling parents.
In a newsletter to parents, John Collier from St Andrews Cathedral School said he had seen the ramifications of separation for almost 30 years, watching parents become so absorbed with their own battles that they overlooked the impact on their child.
He also suggests that denying children access to their fathers when the parents’ relationships break down can lead to girls seeking “inappropriate contact” with other males, and boys rejecting their mothers. Dr Collier said,
Presumably subconsciously, [some parents are] prepared to forfeit the interests of the child for the sake of tactical advantage in the ongoing battle with their ex-partner. When parents are at war with one another, my experience is that the child almost invariably suffers.
When relationships have broken down to the point where parents cannot be in the same room at the school, it tends to leave the child or children all at sea, with no clear direction.
Dr Collier also said he was not singling out specific parents, or St Andrews parents, however, this applied to all schools in general. He adds,
Some may ask why I dare to make such comments. I dare for the sake of the children, to whose welfare I am professionally committed and bound by my position. The point of these remarks is to encourage separated parents to reflect on their relationship with their former partner, in so far as it affects the schooling and nurturing of their child.
Dr Collier made headlines last year when he called on parents to stop being aggressive and demanding towards teachers.
Elisabeth Shaw, NSW chief executive of Relationships Australia, said separation was an “intense, volatile” time, and parents sometimes became so caught up in their pain that they could not see the ramifications for their children. Ms Shaw affirmed there was evidence that children did better on many measures if their parents’ separation was amicable.
The suggestion that girls denied their fathers might be drawn to men earlier, I think is a long bow to draw and does buy into stereotypes about girls that I don’t think is very helpful.
Ms Shaw said research did suggest that poisoning a child’s mind against another parent could damage the relationship in the long term.
Once it comes to a child’s attention that negativity is not the whole story, you could lose the relationship over that.
She suggested parents set up their own chain of communication with schools such as parent-teacher interviews if they were uncomfortable spending time with their former partner at their child’s school.
It is said that teachers are second to parents, as children spend most of their growing years at school. This is a super initiative by the education society in Australia, which is actually thinking about the overall growth and happiness of a child and not just limiting it to marks or the grading system.
So all you estranged couples out there, give up your ego on who said what and who did what! Even if one of the partners have decided to move on, accept it and plan a good life for yourself and your child. ‘Strategizing’ to fix your partner may win you sadistic pleasure, but in the bargain leave your child with an unhappy and lonely childhood.
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