We Need To Talk About The Kids

If you’re a parent, you’ll know that whatever a child’s age, there are challenges to be had.

Newborn babies are miraculous, luminous with new life and rich with the promise of what is to come in the empty book that lies before them. But there’s a flip side to their angelic little faces and delicious baby smell – namely, severe sleep deprivation, the long hours of comforting a colicky baby, and a loss of control over your own life.

Of course, the toddler years are notoriously difficult too – who doesn’t love a toddler tantrum delivered at high octane in your local Woollies, usually rounded off by kicking and throwing themselves on the ground? Don’t worry: we’ve all been there (no matter what your in-laws might say).

As kids grow up, challenges for parents seem to grow right along with them. Once they head off to primary school, there are a myriad of potential new threats to a parent’s equilibrium – think issues like bullying, isolation and unrealistic expectations. (And that’s just from the Mums at the school gate!)

And let’s not get started on the dramas that might lie in wait for the unsuspecting parents of teenagers. Depression, cyber-bulling, screen rage, alcohol and sex are just a few of the conundrums we’ll need to face with our kids. The reality is, being a parent can be tough work as you negotiate your way (often slowly, sometimes painfully) through whatever life and your offspring throw at you.

For separated parents, however, sometimes even the smallest of issues – such as whether little Jimmy needed a haircut – can quickly become a battleground. In the early stages post separation, many parents will spend most of their time and energy sorting out the big issues such as where and with whom the kids will live. But once these matters have been resolved (sometimes via the intervention of the courts), the day to day development issues of raising a family remain. And these daily issues have the potential to cause grief and heartache to separated parents – sometimes just as much as heartache as the ‘big ticket’ items of their separation.

Disagreements might arise around:

  • Schooling: Catholic, Private or Public? Whereabouts? School location can turn into a major issue if parents live a large distance apart.
  • Differing Parenting Approaches: You insist on the ‘no devices after 9’ approach to technology, but the ex can’t tear themselves off their iPhone, let alone enforce technology restrictions on the kids.
  • Health: Is this just normal teenage behaviour or is it something more worrisome? And if this is depression, anxiety or some other psychiatric disorder, do we agree that medication should be prescribed? If not, can we agree on other treatment options?

It’s tricky business for separated parents, that’s for sure. How can they come to common ground on these matters – particularly if they can’t agree on there being an issue to address with their child in the first place?

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are one option. FDR practitioners are qualified, independent mediators who help people affected by separation or divorce to resolve their parenting disputes. Other options include engaging a child or adolescent psychologist or paediatrician, either for consultation and treatment and/or to prepare a written family report which will contain the practitioner’s recommendations for resolving the issues in dispute.

In Victoria, the government-funded Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) help families explore whether a child has a mental health problem. If they do, this organisation offers advice on what steps to take including referrals to appropriate specialists.

Specialist family lawyers like Bayside Family Law Solutions can provide assistance to warring parents by helping identify any legal dispute caught up in the issues. Solicitor Chris Forster can help by making suggestions on how to approach the disagreement, in addition to running negotiations on your behalf. This removes a separated parent’s sense of isolation, and releases you from the feeling of ‘having to fight all your own battles’. If negotiations between legal representatives fail to lead to a resolution of the issues, then your solicitor can run your argument before one of the relevant family courts and ask for the court to decide the matter. At Bayside Family Law Solutions, we regularly help clients through the difficulties associated with parenting differences of opinion.

Parenting is hard work. And sometimes, you need an expert to help carry the load. Bayside Family Law Solutions are ready and waiting.

Related resources


Once Upon a Time in Bayside


What if the Stefanovics Got Back Together?


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