Following a family breakdown, how the contact between parents and children will work is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. How and where it will happen, and how often. But as well as the practicalities, it’s important to think about how the contact will be made meaningful. How are you going to ensure that children are having the best possible experience?
At Starting Point, meaningful contact that makes a difference is our goal. But what does that actually look like? In this week’s blog, we’re covering the key things needed for meaningful contact to happen.
Put the effort in
Having contact with children in difficult circumstances isn’t easy. Relationships don’t simply happen overnight, you’ve got to put the work in and stay the distance.
Parents need to put the effort in if they want to form meaningful connections with their children. Much like any relationship, it won’t grow without work. You’ve got to be involved, show interest and focus solely on contact when it happens without any distractions.
Prioritise your contact
Contact with your children has to be the priority. Chopping and changing arrangements won’t help to build meaningful relationships built on trust. Making your contact time a priority shows your child that you’re putting them first. Obviously, sometimes things come up that can’t be helped, but don’t cancel contact short-notice for things that aren’t significant in the long run.
It’s important to set aside time specifically for contact. Then it will be less likely that life will get in the way.
Be consistent and reliable
Always showing up when planned and arriving on time shows that you care. It also builds trust. It’s important for children to know that they can rely on their parents and carers to be there when they need them.
This is even more important if the contact arrangements are new. Having a foundation to build that trust will create a more meaningful relationship in the long run.
Be interested and involved
It’s not enough to just show up. Parents and carers need to engage meaningfully during the contact. Talk about your child’s likes, dislikes, anything they’re struggling with, something they’re excited about.
Good communication means actively listening to what your child is saying, and responding to it meaningfully. It means really getting on their level. This is a great way to show your child that you care about them, and you’re interested in what’s going on in their life.
Meaningful contact doesn’t happen overnight. As with any relationship, it takes time for trust to build. Forming consistent habits over time will show your child that this contact is important to you. A positive experience is about accumulating layers of positive experiences during contact time.
Always put the children first
This should be at the centre of everything you do when it comes to contact. Always look at the situation from their perspective. Try to stay calm and neutral. If they lash out or if they’re defiant, consider why that might be. Especially if they’re adjusting to contact for the first time, this is a big change that could take some getting used to.
Don’t give up
Contact may not always run smoothly. Sometimes, it might feel like you’re taking one step forward and three steps back. But don’t worry and don’t give up.
Just talk through it, listen to your child, and use it as a learning experience for contact moving forward.
Starting Point can help
At Starting Point, we do everything we can to foster an environment where meaningful contact can happen. We know that our clients are putting in the effort, so it’s important that we step up to do the same. That’s why we’re available, accessible, and put the children’s needs at the heart of everything we do.
To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with us today.