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Parenting tensions rise as school summer holiday starts

Uneasy relationships often become unworkable in long six weeks

As the long school summer holiday begins, a leading family charity is expecting a sharp rise in separating couples looking for its help.

“Making arrangements for children during the long school vacation provides big headaches for many parents, but it can be really tough for couples whose relationships are on the edge,” says National Family Mediation Chief Executive, Jane Robey.

The charity says three major factors shift couples from an uneasy relationship to an unworkable one during the summer holiday:

• more family time together in close proximity
• changes in established daily routines
• the expense of going away, and keeping family members entertained.

“Many parents work through the tensions for the sake of their children, taking a day at a time, but eventually decide it’s time for a new start.

“It’s not just the week away somewhere warm, but the time at home when stressed-out families are spending more time together,” Jane Robey added.

Changing needs of children as they grow forces re-negotiated arrangements

And for those who have been separated or divorced for some time, the changing needs of children as they grow brings fresh summer challenges.

“As the summer holiday goes on, our charity staff will expect to see more and more couples who have already separated or divorced looking to change parenting arrangements that may have worked two or three years ago, but are no longer fit-for-purpose,” she said.

“We’re often contacted by parents who find that pick-ups and drop-offs that might have worked in term-time, or when the kids were younger, become outdated and need to be re-shaped. When that happens it can spark off some of the old hostilities between acrimonious couples, with children caught helplessly in the middle.”

Parents who want to know more can use the online ‘find a local mediator’ facility or call 0300 4000 636.