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Children need both parents even more during the pandemic

This opinion piece is almost 3 years old

Ian Maxwell said it is vital that separated parents work together to help their children through what is a difficult time

Despite Michael Gove’s initial mis-statement on morning TV, the official line throughout the coronavirus lockdown has been that children are allowed to travel between their homes if their parents are separated. This is a significant exception to the restrictions on movement that have been introduced to cut down the risk of the virus spreading.

Shared Parenting Scotland was pleased to hear this guidance, along with the Lord President’s statement that parents should stick to court-ordered or informal child contact arrangements during the lockdown.

With the heightened anxiety and every news bulletin filled with death figures and stories about the risk of infection, it is really important that children know both of their parents are safe and well.

It’s also sensible that both parents work together to share the load of childcare at this difficult time, even if they live apart.

We have received many helpline calls on this topic over the past few weeks, from both mothers and fathers trying to work out what is safest for their children. We have been stressing that during the pandemic it is even more important for children to have reassurance and support from their fathers and their mothers.

Although we have heard from some families in which working relations between parents have improved since the start of the lockdown, we are concerned that contact has been cut back or stopped completely in many families without good reason.

Together with our Welsh counterparts Both Parents Matter, we have been conducting a survey amongst our service users. Results so far show that 61% of separated parents have experienced reduced time or no contact at all with their children since the start of the lockdown.

Ian Maxwell
Ian Maxwell

The proportion who are completely blocked from seeing their children has risen from 13% to 29% during the lockdown. Even if there are good reasons why children have had to stop travelling between their parents, this should not stop them communicating by phone or online.

A parent who is prevented from even seeing or hearing their child during this time of crisis has no easy way of resolving this impasse. The Scottish courts have closed for all but urgent child protection hearings and family mediation is online only if available. Even when the lockdown finishes there is likely to be a large backlog of family court hearings. We have asked the Scottish Courts to consider prioritising such cases when normal working is resumed.

We will continue to provide information through our helpline and website and our regular support meetings across Scotland have all moved seamlessly on to Zoom. For details see our web site

Shared parenting is never easy, and the pressure on both parental and children’s mental health during this crisis has not helped. We would echo Nicola Sturgeon’s recent appeal for all parents to build up their collaboration by showing “kindness, solidarity and love”.

Ian Maxwell is the national manager of Shared Parenting Scotland



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almost 3 years ago
The father is important and the mother is always important, especially at these times, because children have nothing to do with the problems of adults no matter what! So no one should take advantage of children to put pressure on the other side. For the health and safety of children.????
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almost 3 years ago
Iv been stopped from seeing my 13 year old daughter the day before lockdown, I was told she don’t want o see me after her mum filled her head with negativity about me. This is soul destroying. At same time my current partner absconded with my 9 month old daughter, life is being ripped apart, covid19 is being used to estrange the other parent.
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almost 3 years ago
We haven't seen my two children since February! The mother has 2 other children and has been using symptoms as a way of self isolating another 14 days each time. We are now into the third lot of self isolation with them yet no one sees this as wrong. If they are genuinely self isolating then how can another person in the house keep showing symptoms after each 14 day isolation period?