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Lifelines: Pauline Nimmo on European Child Contact Centre Awareness Week

This Lifelines problem page written by local Child Contact Centre Manager Pauline Nimmo originally appeared in Scotland on Sunday (21/04/13).

 

I HAVE two children aged ten and seven. My ex-partner and I had an acrimonious separation and I had to go to court to see my children. My ex made allegations that I was not a good father and therefore a contact centre was suggested by the sheriff.

At first I was horrified that I had to go to a centre to see my children as I had done nothing wrong but, after six months, I have now moved on to picking them up at the centre and taking them away.

In retrospect, I see it was a good step as it helped keep a structure to arrangements and the children didn’t see their parents arguing at handover times. We’re back in court soon and I hope to get the children at their mother’s and not use the centre any more.

I have now been approached to consider mediation with my ex-wife, but I am afraid this might rock the boat between us and ruin things with the children.

 

I’m glad your experience of the child contact centre was ultimately positive. Many people believe child contact centres to be dreary, sad places where parents are watched and judged by “professionals”. This is not the case and, though no-one would choose this type of environment for time with their children, they are usually friendly and welcoming places. As for mediation, it is a good way to discuss the issues that have hindered communication and trust between your ex-wife and yourself, so give it a try as, long term, it would be best if you could try and have some kind of parental relationship for the good of your children.

 

READY AND ABLE

I am a mother of two young boys. Their dad passed away two years ago and I had a breakdown, then turned to prescription medication to help me cope. This resulted in the boys’ grandparents having to take care of them but, when I eventually felt able to have them back, their grandparents were concerned I would not be ready.

Although I understood their position, this resulted in arguments every time I went to see my boys and I felt they were watching my every move. What can I do to convince everyone I’m ready to have my boys back?

 

The situation you found yourself in must have been so hard without the added stress of arguing over your boys. They are lucky they are so loved and protected by their grandparents and their mum, who seems to have come very far and is ready to have a life with them again.

You might like to consider using a child contact centre as a neutral place that does not take sides, so the children who come along are the priority. This enables parents to have the space to be parents without feeling judged or scrutinised. I am sure this would be of benefit for all of you.

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