When farming families separate or divorce it can be challenging to co-parent but not impossible, director Lucy Theobald explains more.
Going through a separation or divorce is always a highly emotional time for those involved, including children.
Generally, one parent will move out of the family home so it’s important early on to make arrangements for children to spend time with both parents. When one or both parents are farmers, the children are likely to have played an active part in farm life and will often want to stay involved.
Farming is a 24/7 vocation and work hours don’t fit a set pattern, so agreeing co-parenting arrangements can prove difficult. However, if both parents can be flexible and put the children’s needs first a practical compromise can be achieved. In an ideal world, parents should try to reach an agreement between themselves without involving the courts.
Good communication is key when co- parenting and this can be challenging for any separated couple, let alone a farming family. If face-to-face communication proves difficult, set rules for emailing/texting one another rather than try to communicate through the children.
Implementing a co-parenting plan is a useful way of covering situations like school holidays, birthdays and busy times on the farm like harvest or lambing. Making key decisions about such events in advance will help to alleviate potential stress for all concerned.
Rather than stick rigidly to arrangements, your children may want to keep in touch with the other parent through phone calls or video chats. This may be essential during busy farming periods when one parent is working unsociable hours. So be kind, be flexible on their contact.
Don’t try too hard
Some parents who spend less time with their children feel that they have to try harder by packing days with lots of activities. Remember that your children want to spend time with you. Sometimes a day at home or on the farm is all they really want.
If possible, stay amicable
Avoid arguing in front of your children as this will only make them worry and even blame themselves. Co-parenting is not always easy, but it is better to be amicable and respectful of one another when the children are present. You can discuss any contentious issues with the help of a third party such as a mediator.
Children learn useful life skills from both parents as well as their surroundings, including the farm. As they develop and mature, your plans will need to adapt and change. The most important thing is that your children need to feel safe, secure and loved.