Parenting Apart

Splitting up or living apart? How to move forward positively when parenting apart

Parenting Apart information sessions help parents to make divorce or separation, or parenting when living apart, less stressful for children. More than 300 parents and their children have benefitted from participating in the sessions since they were launched in 2015.  Funding from Scottish Government has allowed the sessions to be offered across Scotland by 11 Relationships Scotland Member Services.

Feedback from parents who have attended group or individual three hour sessions has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring.  Analysing the outcomes demonstrates that these sessions have a significant impact on family life:

  • 84% of parents say that their understanding of how to help their children to cope better has increased significantly by participating in Parenting Apart.
  • Three months after the session approximately 70% said they and their children were coping better with their family situation.
  • At this point, the percentage of parents sharing time with their children had increased from 46% to 65%.
  • 99% of parents said they would recommend Parenting Apart sessions to others.

One parent said 'I was dreading it, but surprisingly it was really enjoyable. I wasn't made to feel in any way like an 'unfit mother'. If anything, it was empowering.'

A number of new resources for supporting parents who live apart has been developed as part of the project. These include a set of small, colourful, pocket sized booklets with information and top tips:

  • Messages for parents,
  • Messages for young people, and
  • Messages for children.

The 'Messages for parents' booklet covers topics including what children need to hear, what helps, conflict and communication; families come in all shapes and sizes.  The information in these booklets can be found on the Parenting Apart page of the Relationships Scotland website and the booklets can be downloaded free.

A new film based on research evidence, Parenting Apart: children's voices, presenting the views of children about separation and divorce. This film is shown to parents during Parenting Apart sessions to enable them to focus on children's needs and encourage a discussion about what parents can do to move forward positively when living apart.

The 50 Parenting Apart facilitators in the Relationships Scotland network, who are now trained to provide these sessions, come from mediation, counselling and family support worker backgrounds.  They offer a wealth of experience, skills and perspectives to parents who participate.  By offering these sessions within Relationships Scotland Member Services parents are able to find out about and access other specialist services and further support.

Relationships Scotland has been awarded further funding to offer Parenting Apart sessions in 2016/17, and is planning to develop the potential benefit of these sessions for other family members such as stepparents, grandparents and kinship carers.

'Parenting Apart has made a huge difference to me.  It has improved my overall well being and helped me find really positive ways to deal with my ex for the sake of my son.' Quote from a parent at a three month review session.

For more information go to www.relationships-scotland.org.uk/family-support/parenting-apart-groups or contact Rosanne Cubitt, head of professional practice, Relationships Scotland, rosanne.cubitt@relationships-scotland.org.uk