Common Challenges:

The separation of a couple can be challenging or it can be smooth. There are many factors involved, and often there are significant flow-on effects when children are involved.  Some of the key issues involve communication. The challenges can vary, depending on the parent’s personality, stress levels and coping ability.  If the parents can continue to communicate and engage positively, then life can be smoother for the children.

Some of these challenges include:

  • Parents ability to communicate and collaborate
  • Parenting style
  • Transitions
  • Managing emotions


The separation of two people who had been loving, caring and intimate with each other is the biggest challenge.  Whether this situation was determined by one person, or by the couple together can determine the future “levels of engagement”.  Some couples can continue to engage well, remain friends and can communicate appropriately.  Other couples are constantly in conflict, which can make it challenging for each parent, as well as the children.  Some couples need external support and independent facilitation of children moving between each parent. This can add in additional challenges for the children, but can provide some stability and safety when the parents are having difficulty engaging or communicating.

Parenting style:

Separated Dad

One challenge can be around parenting style and behaviours. If the parents are similar in their parenting style, then this allows the children to be more settled. If the parents are different in their parenting style, but able to share the same routines, then the challenges for the children are more manageable.  The difficult times for children, are when the parents have significantly different parenting styles, and when the parents are in conflict. It’s important for children to have stability and consistent routines, so when there is disruption, instability or inconsistency, then this can impact on the children in a variety of ways.


Another challenge can be around transitions. This involves times when the children spend time with one parent, and then change to spend time with the other parent. There are so many variances on living arrangements.  Some families have a regular week:week routine-where the child/children spend one week with one parent and then one week with the other parent.  Some children may reside full time with one parent, and spend weekends with the other parent. Therefore, one challenge involves the children and their emotions and behaviours.  Some children enjoy spending equal time or weekend time with one parent, and there are no effects of the change on their functioning. For other children, there may be anxiety before they leave, in the days leading up to the changeover. For some children they have no problems with their behaviour, but then on return to the original parent, there are emotional outbursts, or even tantrums or challenging behaviours.

Managing Emotions:

Some children experience difficulty managing their emotions. This may be the result of parenting challenges, communication difficulties or parent/child relationship issues. However, other times, children’s emotional response can be due to their own anxiety, grief or distress around the changes in their family, and therefore their life. Many children benefit from child counselling, and the experience of a positive therapeutic relationship. Many children learn more emotional awareness, or alternative strategies for managing their emotions. Children also have the ability to share their emotions and to debrief with an independent person.  Children also can have the opportunity to work through their grief, and integrate and process the situation better.

separation children





 Another challenge involves Court Proceedings. This adds a whole different level of conflict and adversity into the mix.  There are now additional stressors and expenses and demands on everyone in this situation.  When parents are unable to resolve their differences, and the arguing continues, this can not resolve the situation, external parties like lawyers and judges may need to be involved.  I would encourage all couples to work together, to respect each other and to seek couple counselling and mediation well before heading down the “Family Court” pathway.

When parents can work together, communicate respectfully and engage with their children as the TOP PRIORITY, then everyone in the system can function a lot better.  When parents collaborate, communicate, discuss and keep each other informed; then life can go a lot smoother.

ABOUT the Blogger:

Jay is a Registered Psychologist, Counsellor and Play Therapist. She practices in southwest Western Australia. Jay has worked in the Human Services field for about 20 years, of which the last 9 years have involved therapeutic work.  Jay’s passion is “making a difference” and she works with adults as well as children.

She has a strong interest in Animal Assisted Therapy and her dog has engaged in therapy with her for a few years now.  You will find Jay at within our directory.


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