Ten golden rules to protect your child from the effects of separation

When parents separate, the effects on children can be devastating. As a dad, you can make choices that limit the damage and help your child adjust to the new situation. We suggest ten golden rules to follow to protect them from the worst of it. Every situation and every child is different. You'll need to listen to your own children to try and understand their responses to the changes. There are a few guidelines that are pretty much universal though, so here are some to get you started…


One. Keep any conflict away from your child

Children need to be kept safe from any conflict between you and their mum. The absence of conflict between you and your child’s mum will be the key factor in how well they will adapt to their post separation world.

Two. Respect their relationship with their mum and don't make them take sides

However hard it is, however much you dislike her, don't let your children know: since children are aware they’re made from both their parents, negativity from one parent toward the other makes them feel personally attacked. So never, never criticise their mother in front of your child: it will tear them apart.

Three. Make sure they're provided for

When children from separated families do badly, it’s often because their standard of living with one or both of their parents drops and they grow up poor. So doing your best to help your children, yourself and their mother have enough money to live on can be one of the most important contributions you make. Be systematic about this, and look for financial help if you need it.


Four. Keep communicating about your children

Nobody is asking you to remain best friends with your child’s mum but you do need to keep open the communication channels with her. It will help to keep your child safe. If you can’t talk face-to-face, find another way of communicating. Try telephone, email or text messaging.

Communicating with your child's mother

Five. Deal with your emotional responses away from your children

Your child doesn’t need to witness your pain. No matter how hard you are struggling, never allow your hurt to spill over into your interactions with your children. You are the adult and they must be allowed to remain as a child.

Emotional support

Six. Try to get your child to express their feelings

Children are good at hiding their experiences from their parents, especially when there is a crisis. Don’t avoid their pain, even if you feel responsible for causing it. Talk to them, listen to them, acknowledge their experience and reassure them. If your child is too young to talk, get them to draw how they feel.

Seven. Try to agree how your child will be brought up

Talk to your child’s mum about the things that you consider to be the most important in their upbringing. Try to reach agreement on these points and then accept that, outside of these, you will both do a good enough job of parenting. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Reaching agreement

Eight. Do what you say you will do

Be where you say you will be, do what you say you will do and be in a fit state to do it. Your child will thrive in the certainty that this brings.

Nine. Be flexible

Separation is a process rather than an event. Don’t wave court orders around unless you absolutely need to. Your arrangements are primarily for the benefit of your child so be flexible around parenting time if it is in their interests.

Your workplace rights: flexible working

Ten. Don’t give up

Government figures suggest that up to 25 per cent of children do not see anything of their non resident parent. Whether or not you see your children may not be up to you, but you can do everything in your power to maintain your relationship with them.  Sometimes it can feel like a pretty lonely and difficult job, but the love and security that you can give your children will last them a life-time. So stick in there!

The long term: things to bear in mind



Hide comments (8)


  • Guest
    mr Thursday, 17 March 2016


    I hear what your saying but you make it sound so easy. i am actually on a charge of shouting and swearing at my wife, bail conditions are on with no contact with wife or to go to the house, there are no court restrictions with me seeing the children,but at the moment my wife only allows me to see them at her convienence 2 hours on a friday night as she is working and 9-7 on a Saturday!, and when she works on a Thursday night she prefers to give them to a baby sitter than let there farther look after them? how can this be right???

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Thank you for your comment - unfortunately we are unable to provide specific advice on individual situations but I have included a link below which may be of help to you.


    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Spencer Adams Thursday, 12 May 2016


    What about if you dont get see you child at all you put contact in threw email and no reply blocked contact...you pay csm but cant afford courts

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Hi Spencer - perhaps the article below may be of help to you?


    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Phil Wednesday, 25 May 2016


    No 1 should be don't give up. Resident parents can put so many barriers up to prevent access, which leads to emotional and financial stress. But keep going, get a good support network and think of your children and how much having a father means to them

  • Guest
    Jonathan Wednesday, 25 May 2016


    Am doing all these, so it makes me feel better to see them written down.

    The only one I have problems with is Step 6.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Wiremu Te Ranga Sunday, 09 October 2016

    Taking Up The Cause.

    I am a casualty as much as those i have read about with the same challenges.Its a recurring scenario which i feel discouraged knowing we as fathers are dragged through a maze of emotional lows to find yourself back where you started,alone!I admit i have yet to accept my predicament as the only outcome.In other words accept it or perish!The law as it stands is to provide for the child/children protection and safety first then the female or male parent next or collectively if the case may be and is offered the same due diligents as those of the children.I am aware of childless couples are afforded the same to.But what I have had the unfortunate discomfort and experience that I can only put down to my demise being naive and trusting your partners word from a combined agreement for a genuine focus to help the children through this seperation as much as we can together with professional help.Within a week of her decision to seperate And our agreement to help the kids she had turned on me to me being where i am today.From the moment Zi was served a VRO she has ridiculed me before and after i was removed from the home and has kept up with the rhetoric,threats,humiliation,lies & her constant state of mind worried of her ability to lead a carefree life knowing i was still in the background somewhere when she is regularly visited by the local police to be informed of any concerns she has to reassure her they will not hesitate arresting me for any breach of the VRO.She lets me know she has the power to do just that knowing i had foolishly removed clothes and tools i needed from the premises in direct violation of the order while her and the kids were away one weekend.I kept that stupid act up over a 4-5 week time period in which i returned 3-4 times collecting only my stuff i needed to get work & have the clothes to change to since i only had virtually what i was wearing when i was removed 10.30pm that night with nowhere to stay.But i just gave her ammunition to blackmail me to this day.I am still living in my car,no job,money to get me by till i manage to get more from day to day week to week.She has now informed me i have next to very limited access to any of the kids regardless if they are adamant they want to be with me when its possible but will not notify me at all & for almost 3 weeks without any contact period!In frustration i txt her i will be arriving to be legally within my order to inquire if she was presently in the home to ask any the kids if they would like to spend a couple of hours with me and that they will be back at the time we agreed to.Well my 5 yr old son was excited to see me and so we spent a couple of hours of fantastic bonding.Of course it would have been awesome if the others joined us but i was just glad to have had one of them for the short time we had.She txt me constantly that she will not allow any more unannounced inteference,lack of consideration on my part & that & finally she has been forced to enforce the rules i am to abide by all because of my ignorance and her constant fear of my presence! I have now made up my mind to pursue a crusade of hope by educating myself in the field of law where i can give fathers a chance to get a fair productive outcome and level playing ground for the sake of the family dynamics that are the essential necessities for love,compassion,communication,culture,compromise,loyalty,honour,dignity,faith and perseverance.

  • Guest
    Soulstr Tuesday, 06 March 2018

    Hope this helps

    Sounds like Child Arrangement Order (CAO) is what you might want to apply for, it gives you access to your children almost instantly once in place. CAO can be applied for only after mediation however there are circumstances where mediation is exempt like risk of imminent child abduction which doesn't sound like it applies in this instance. See useful links below for help, good luck.

    https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/ (finding a mediator near you)
    https://www.thepsu.org (help with filling forms)
    https://www.advicenow.org.uk (general advice and your rights)

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