June 14, 2013

Wish you were here: the downside of Father’s Day

A report, out just days before the annual Father’s Day celebrations get underway, has reinforced the stark reality that around one million children in the UK grow up with no contact with their father.

Published by the Centre for Social Justice, whose director Christian Guy warns of the “tsunami of family breakdown battering the country”, the findings highlight:

  • That many children are in “men deserts” with no male role-model in sight,
  • That the tragedy of family break-up is devastating children, parents and communities, and
  • That the number of lone-parent families is increasing at a rate of more than 20,000 a year and will total more than two million by 2015.

The research also highlights how the instability of cohabiting couples – as opposed to a surge in divorce rates – is fuelling the disintegration of the UK family.

For many close-knit families, Father’s Day will be a straightforward celebration for children and adults to honour and indulge their dads with treats, gifts, cards and outings.

However, for children whose parents have separated, Sunday brings a myriad of challenges and emotions and being able to see their dad on this special day may require a degree of pre-planning and a willingness on both sides to make it happen.

Our whole approach at Jones Myers is to help separating couples adopt and maintain a non-confrontational approach so as to minimise the impact on children when relationships break down.

When mums and dads become embittered they can often regard the other party as the enemy. It is all too easy to forget that maintaining positive relationships with both parents should be the priority on both sides.

Using a holistic approach we recognise when families might need additional support from mediators and other family professionals to work through the issues that may be impacting on their children’s ability to cope.

Putting children’s interests first may mean the adults will have to put their own feelings to one side. When mum and dad are at war with each other, it can leave children feeling isolated and powerless.

The financial pressures on families make leisure and access time less flexible as work commitments take priority. Putting the arrangements in place for children to see a dad that lives elsewhere may require a degree of cooperation and understanding by both parties.

The real impact of collaborative family law will be on the children of separated parents who are able to celebrate the bond of affection they have for their father – with their mother’s blessing.