Working with families to provide the right support when it's needed

Support for separating or separated parents

Separating can be difficult for everyone involved particularly when it comes to parenting together. You may come across challenges in your relationship with your ex-partner that make is difficult to focus on your children. Parenting together involves lots of decisions and will change over time depending on your child’s age and stage of development.

If you don’t live with the other parent this can make it harder to have conversations about your children and cause parenting together to be a challenge. Conversations about parenting may be avoided or if they do happen, they may become tense or argumentative causing conflict. It can be difficult to know how to move forward. Sometimes children feel a responsibility to each parent to help them to communicate or they may worry about their parents feelings.

New - Triple P Family Transitions Programme

A new Triple P positive parenting programme for parents who have separated, or are separating, will be running in some of our family hubs. The programme will offer suggestions and ideas on positive parenting to help promote your child’s development, look after yourself as a parent and manage the stresses and demands of going through a separation.

This five week Triple P family transitions programme will be run by Liz Clough from Turquoise Personal Development. You can attend in person on your own, or together with your ex-partner.

The sessions will look at:

  • separation – a family transition
  • coping with emotions
  • managing disagreements and conflict
  • balancing work, family and play.

Dates, times and locations: 

  • Winton library: Thursdays 6 June to 4 July, 9.15am to 11:45am or 12.15pm to 2.45pm
  • Poole Old Town Family Hub: Wednesdays 25 September to 23 October, 9.15am to 11:45am 
  • Turlin Moor Family Hub: Thursdays 26 September to 24 October,  9.15am to 11:45am

To be referred to this programme: E.

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Unhelpful behaviours between separated parents

A) Provoking your child's other parent

If you add to the other parent's stress or anxiety, it can have a direct impact on your child. A parent feeling overwhelmed will struggle to meet their child's needs.

Try instead to put your decisions through 'The Child Test'. Ask yourself; 'How might this affect my child?'

B) Competing to be the favourite parent

Most children just want their parents' time and attention. Competing with your child's other parent can pull focus away from doing what's best for your child.

Try instead to focus on what your child needs from you. Ask yourself; 'Am I doing this for my child's best interest? Or for another reason?'

C) Badmouthing your child's other parent

When one parent badmouths the other, your child can feel forced to choose sides. As a result they may avoid telling you about problems to do with their other parent.

Try instead to focus on finding solutions to the problem. If you really need to vent, call someone you trust. Just make sure your child does not overhear.

D) Not letting your child talk about the other parent

It can be painful to hear your child talk about their other parent. But if children think what they're saying is upsetting you, they will start to censor themselves around you.

Try instead to remember that your child still loves their other parent. Try to show interest and say something positive. And smile, even if you're not feeling it!

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Child roles between separated parents

A) Spy

Asking your child about their other parent can make them feel like a spy. They might fear they're betraying them or just say what they think you want to hear.

Try instead: stick to general questions. If you find yourself asking more specific ones, like about their new partner, ask yourself why you really want to know and how it might make your child feel.

B) Messenger

Asking children to pass messages back and forth puts them in an uncomfortable position. They may worry that whatever they do, it'll upset one of their parents.

Try instead: if it's not easy to talk to each other, could you ask someone neutral to join a chat group between you both?
They might help keep things calm and respectful.

C) Counsellor

If you're seeking emotional support from your child, it can put them under pressure to make you feel better. It's not their job to give you support.

Try instead: if your child sees you're upset you can tell them how you're feeling. But let them know that you'll be okay and they do not need to worry.

D) Mediator

It can be extremely upsetting for children to see their parents arguing with each other. They may feel the need to try and solve the problem which is too much responsibility for children.

Try instead: let them know these are problems for adults to solve. Reassure them that you both still love them, even though you're not together anymore.

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Free online courses that can support you

Separating can be difficult for everyone involved. If you feel you would like more support there are free programmes available through oneplusone that you can complete independently online. The programme 'Getting it Right for Children' helps parents develop effective ways to co-operate after separation. It can help you to develop positive communication skills, so that you can sort out disagreements and find solutions together.

You will learn:

  • how to stay calm and listen as well as talk
  • why it’s helpful to see things from a different point of view
  • what to do to stop a discussion from turning into an argument
  • skills for finding solutions and making compromises

To access 'Getting it Right for Children' click the link here Parent guide for England (

RPC - support for separated parents
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Additional support

At times it can be difficult to think about our relationships with others. If you feel you would like to access support for your relationship with your partner or ex-partner to reduce conflict but feel you would like additional support to be able to do this we may be able to help you.

To find out more about additional support that may be available to you, please contact your local family hub and a member of the Early Help Team will contact you to chat.

Children and family court advisory and support service - parenting together.

Find out advice on how to parent when apart.

Divorce and separation support from advice now.

Advice for parents on how to talk to and support your teenager during divorce or separation.

Citizens advice offer information on how to separate.

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Oneplusone 'separating better' app

Separating better is a mobile app designed to support separating parents and help you to create a positive environment for co-parenting.

Their app offers expert guidance and practical solutions for families navigating separation. It’s designed for parents to use independently.

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