Arguments & fights
over children

Crossing boundaries

Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts

ZAnK - Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte

Children in the Conflict Situation

Every year, a great many couples, married or unmarried, are in the process of separation. For those who have children, their separation will have profound effects not only on the lives of the parents, but will turn upside down the world of their children as well. When the children have to move, or one of their parents is moving out, this will change their entire life. In many cases, the parents’ separation will cause a crisis, or at least a situation of uncertainty. Usually the interests of their children are best served if the parents manage as soon as possible to cooperate in a reasonable way with regard to their children’s care, upbringing as well as the right of access, to enable the children to maintain a beneficial and meaningful relationship to both parents.

But reality tells a different story. The actions and reactions of parents after separation are often contrary to their original intent to give priority to the best interests of the child. Not being able to differentiate between the couple relationship and their relationship as parents, they are unable to reach agreements on matters concerning their children and each one criticizes the other parent’s way of acting; e.g. they:

  • Prevent contact between the child and the other parent
  • Insult each other
  • Go to court
  • Threaten each other, intimidate each other or try to control their ex-partner
  • Show aggression or use violence.

Often children are exposed to their parents’ behavior unprotected. This may have disastrous effects – psychological problems, behavior disorders, problems at school, just to mention a few of them. The longer the conflict goes on, the greater the risk that the parents’ separation will have lasting adverse consequences for the children’s development which may persist into adulthood.

What Parents Can Do

To enable parents to meet the needs and safeguard the interests of their children, they should seek professional counseling to encourage them to:

  • Make a difference between the couple relationship and the parents’ relationship
  • Become aware that children love both parents, in spite of the conflict between their parents
  • Leave their child out of the conflict (e.g. not to use the child as a messenger between the parents)
  • Support contacts between the child and the other parent, and assure the child that they should not have a bad conscience because of that
  • Not to attempt to make the child take sides
  • Not to make the child feel that they have to be considerate of the needs of their parents.

To put it in a nutshell: Now as before, to be a reliable basis for their children.


 

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