Consensus Collaboration Scotland (CCS), a network of lawyers, family consultants and financial experts that specialise in out of court divorce settlements, is calling on divorcing parents to provide additional support for their children to limit the impact of separation on school work. The message comes as thousands of kids across the country go back to school after the summer holidays.
According to research, divorce can have a negative impact on a child’s education if not managed properly. Research in the US found that children whose parents have divorced were twice as likely not to graduate from high school. In the UK a study at UCL found that educational attainment is negatively affected by divorce and that the impact is most keenly felt by older children , from seven upwards.
Founder of Cath Karlin Family Law specialists and CCS member said: “There is no doubt that divorce and separation can affect our children, and lower performance at school is an early indicator that things aren’t great at home. In Scotland, many CCS members have dealt with parents who are concerned about the emotional impact of divorce and its impact on education and attainment later in life. This has prompted many of us to speak out about this important issue as a new school year begins.
Parents need to have open and honest conversations with their children about divorce, particularly before school time when children can be most anxious. Divorce can be a scary and uncertain time and many kids blame themselves. Children need constant reassurance and a safe environment where difficult questions can be asked, and feelings expressed and listened to.”
The good news is that as more liberal, ‘no-fault’ divorce legislation comes into play, which reduces conflict and the associated stress, the wellbeing of children of separated parents is likely to improve. More parents are also turning to less confrontational divorce techniques such as mediation or collaborative divorce, which is a more cooperative and less traumatic experience for both parent and child.
Cath Karlin continues:
“Collaborative divorce allows separating couples to agree on the division of assets and childcare outside of court. These techniques are becoming increasingly popular in this country and lead to a more amicable separation, where blame and conflict is reduced. Fostering an environment of collaboration and cooperation between parents is far healthier for children, reducing the stress and uncertainty that comes with divorce. Ultimately this will lead to happier, more settled children who do better at school.”
To limit the impact of divorce on education, CCS have put together five top tips for parents:
Have open conversations: Provide an open and honest environment where you can talk to your kids about the divorce, particularly just before the new term when stress levels rise. Encourage them to share their feelings and ask questions.
First drop off: Arrange for both partners to drop off the kids at their first day of school. This show of solidarity and cooperation will reassure the child on his/her first day.
Share the home work: Create a timetable so that both parents are involved with helping the child with their homework.
Tell your teachers: If you feel comfortable, let your child’s teachers know what’s going on. Ask them to provide additional emotional support and report any problems or issues so they can be nipped in the bud.
Keep telling them it’s not their fault: Not just for school time but very important none the less. The self-centredness of childhood is real. They often aren’t able to internalise that things and people exist independent of each other. They will often blame themselves for everything, including your divorce.
To find out how Collaborative Practive could help you contact one of trained professionals.
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