Parental separation can have a devastating impact on the children, who are often the last to know. But they may pick up on cues that parents aren’t aware of, such as silence, and show signs of stress such as tummy ache, being very naughty or overly eager to please.
The Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is a four-hour course developed by CAFCASS* to help parents and caregivers understand the emotional impact of conflict on children.
Spurgeons delivers SPIP to 3,000 parents a year.
Michelle Riviere who heads up the team says, ”Often parents are told to do the course by the courts and are reluctant at first – but when we explain we’re not telling them how to be parents and, once they understand how much impact their conflict can have on their children in later life, most are really positive.”
”I will start using my daughter’s photo as her mother’s profile picture on the phone – so when I get a text, it will remind me of the reason we communicate.”
One father who did the course said the most practical tip he’d learned was ”…using my daughter’s photo as her mother’s profile picture on the phone – so when I get a text, it will remind me of the reason we communicate.”
Another parent says she learned, ”to take time out and keep calm, agree on times to deal with text messages when children are in bed. I can see things working if both parties agree to work towards making the children happy and listening to them.”
Michelle is keen for parents to be offered SPIP at an earlier stage of separation. ”The court stage can be too late, especially is parents have been going through the courts for years. So we’re promoting SPIP to those involved in mediation, such as solicitors and social workers, inviting them to observe SPIP sessions.
”Most referrals currently come via family courts, but few referrers really understand SPIP, so we’re also promoting its benefits so they in turn can promote it to parents more positively.”
*Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is a non-departmental, non-governmental public body in England.
To learn more about the SPIP programme, click here.