For mums who have recently divorced or separated, Mother’s day can be a difficult and upsetting time, especially if it falls on a weekend when their ex-partner is due to have the kids.
NFM’s CEO, Jane Robey, offers some advice on how warring couples can agree parenting plans to cover this day and other special days in the calendar.
If a mum is separated from her partner, they may not necessarily be able to spend Mother’s Day with their children if their agreed parenting plan doesn’t allow for any flexibility and the day falls on her ex’s allocated weekend. And the same can be said for Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter and any other date when, typically, a family would have come together to celebrate. It’s therefore usually in the best interests of both parties to agree some wiggle room that will ultimately benefit everyone – especially the children!
Try to be reasonable in your negotiations. Rather than demanding the whole weekend, you may find your ex is more open to an hour or so to enjoy a special brunch or lunch.
Equally, remember the mums on the other side of the family and how you can accommodate their needs too. For example, if the children are close to their paternal grandma, they may also want to see her, so it’s worth factoring that into what you agree.
If you are going to request a change to the pre-agreed parenting schedule, make sure it’s something you really do want. Often, we work with couples who say their ex has a habit of chopping and changing dates just to start an argument. Planning well in advance and being genuine about each request will help to keep things amicable.
Be prepared to adapt:
What works one year, might not necessarily work the next, so be prepared to adapt to current circumstances.
Even if it’s difficult to accept, your children may go on to form a strong bond with your ex’s new partner, and they may also want to celebrate the role that she plays in their lives on Mother’s Day at some point too. We regularly receive enquiries from families whose circumstances have changed since their parenting plan was originally put in place and family mediation can help them navigate these changes and reach a solution that meets everyone’s needs.
Be prepared to talk:
If you and your ex are finding it difficult to talk to each other, then you may want to consider family mediation. Family Mediation is a process where a trained independent mediator helps you work out arrangements concerning your children, finance or property.
The mediator is there to help you work through disagreements and find solutions that work for you both. Even if you already have a child agreement in place, you can still use mediation to agree some exceptions and flexibility on key dates such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
And currently, couples wanting to discuss children’s matters can access the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which is worth up to £500 towards family mediation and Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation.
Put the children first:
Ultimately, everything you agree with your ex-partner should be in the very best interests of your children. You might be angry or upset with your ex, but if your kids want to see their step-mum or grandma this Mother’s Day consider the impact it will have on them if you dig your heels in.
NFM’s professional mediators are highly skilled third party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their particular circumstances. Our mediators can help you turn arguments into agreements that work for both parties. Find out more about how family mediation can help you or book an appointment today with a family mediator.