June 3, 2016

Seven ways to protect children from conflict

By Kate Banerjee, Head of the Children Department at Jones Myers

A new study from Relate which reveals that almost one in five couples in Britain argue regularly or consider separating – reinforces how pressure can cause conflict and disharmony – which in turn can lead to marital breakdown.

The nature of marriage has changed – although the need for closeness, connection and personal growth is unabated, it seems that couples are less reliant on each other than they were in the past.

High expectations of our spouses can be a heavy burden, and the ever-increasing pressure on couples – compounded by external factors – can exacerbate the problems of a “distressed” relationship. Financial strain, busy schedules, and poor communication can contribute significantly to couples getting stuck in a rut – and are some of the most common complaints our experienced team at Jones Myers hears from our clients who are seeking a divorce.

Dr David Marjoribanks, from Relate, said that this constant bickering could have a “far-reaching” impact on children, leading to worse average school results and even crime.

He said: “Children who grow up with parents who have highly-conflicted relationships are much more likely to have mental and physical health problems, do not do as well at school and end up in antisocial behaviour and criminality even.”

While spousal separation may sometimes be unavoidable, exposing your children to harmful conflict isn’t. Here are some steps to protect your children from the fallout of divorce.


  1. Set objectives: It is always best to start with seeking to achieve what is best for the children, despite your feelings or grievances. Genuinely strive for what will make them happiest and always put their interests first.
  2. Communicate regularly with your ex: Aligned with setting objectives, talk to your ex and plan ahead. This will give you time to agree on and organise logistics, such as travel, seeing wider family, and grandparents’ access.
  3. Tell the children what’s happening: they like certainty and security. With that in mind, let them know as far in advance as possible how their time will be spent. This will give them a chance to adjust to anything they might not have expected.
  4. Don’t criticise your ex in front of them: Also, avoid asking them directly or indirectly to take sides.
  5. Ensure the children know that your break up is not their fault – we can’t emphasise how important this is.
  6. Be flexible: Accept that children will want to see as much of both parents, grandparents, wider family and, crucially, their friends as possible.
  7. Make use of the resources available to you: Organisations like Relate and Resolution have the experience to help support you and your family; explore what’s out there.
  8. Reinforce love and affection: especially during difficult and uncertain times

If you have any comments, queries or concerns on divorce related issues, leave a comment below, call the team at Jones Myers on 0113 246 0055 or tweet us on @helpwithdivorce.