No Kids in the Middle
3328 marriages were divorced in Estonia in 2015. Most divorces go quite calmly, but about 30% of the divorcees are faced with the challenge of having to share their assets and time with children. For about 15% of parents, divorce becomes highly difficult. These parents are the target group of the “No Kids in the Middle” programme.
Problematic divorces stretch out separations and make the process difficult both for family members and people outside the family – friends, acquaintances, co-workers, specialists dealing with children, legal representatives and others. Children living in families are particularly affected by difficult divorces. It has been found that the more difficult the divorce, the more serious psychosocial consequences the children may have. “No Kids in the Middle” is extremely effective in the case of confrontational separations.
The “No Kids in the Middle” training programme is for parents who have had, or are undergoing, a difficult divorce and are unable to reach any agreement on matters concerning children. The aim of the programme is to improve the relationship between divorced or separated parents, so that children could grow up in as relaxed and healthy an environment as possible.
The training consists of eight group meetings for parents and their children, a network meeting and two preliminary interviews. Both parents and their common children participate in group meetings. Training will last for 3 months.
Parents and children meet simultaneously, but in separate groups. Up to 12 parents will be enrolled in a group. Parents work to break their ineffective communication patterns and try to find solutions to the problems that emerge over and over again in their relationship. The priority is the wellbeing of the children. Discussions at group meetings focus primarily on parenting rather than on the couple’s relationship.
The adult group is led by two therapists who provide parents with new knowledge, describe alternative approaches and carry out exercises to help parents change their dysfunctional relationship patterns. All activities are aimed at ending destructive quarrels and finding new ways of communicating. Other group members provide support and inspiration.
Children are provided with understanding and encouragement in their group to express feelings and thoughts associated with their parents’ quarrelling. Children’s group is engaged in creative activities: drawing, writing, poetry, dance, music, etc.
At the end of the programme, the children present their creation to their parents, and the parents, in turn, present to the children what they have learned and what they want for their children in the future. At the end of the group, therapists also give feedback to each family and, if necessary, make recommendations to continue counseling.
Joining the programme
The programme can be contacted personally or referred to by the professionals involved in the divorce. The first groups started in March 2017 in Tallinn and Tartu.
Further information and registering to ongoing groups online: www.dialooglastenimel.ee
Objectives of this programme:
To develop a constructive dialogue between parents
To help parents better understand the causes and consequences of family disputes
To help parents notice their children and the children’s needs in the midst of the conflicts.
In 2017, with the support of the Gambling Tax Council, the project “Improving the quality of life of children through the training of highly confrontational separated parents, “No Kids in the Middle” was carried out.
The project introduced and developed the training programme across Estonia to provide information on the training programme to local governments, child protection and social workers, juvenile committees and judicial authorities, psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners and paediatricians, and other professionals working with families, to discuss the content of training, the developments in different counties, the target group, budget and funding, and to promote cooperation on how to bring the training to the target group.
In 2017, 4 training sessions were conducted across Estonia within the project “Improving the quality of life of children through the training of highly confrontational separated parents, “No Kids in the Middle”, supported by the Gambling Tax Council.
In 2018, we received support again from the Gambling Tax Council to carry out training groups, development, team supervision and impact studies. The project “Supporting children and their families in need of assistance following the parents’ difficult divorce through the program “No Kids in the Middle” and strengthening the network of professionals.”
The aim of this project is to help nation-wide teams to compile and conduct the training programmes “No Kids in the Middle”. Since the target group for the training are parents, who are already divorced, assembling the groups is not easy. Group work will be of most benefit to those parents who are highly motivated and seek to bring about change.
Target group: separated families all over Estonia, as well as local government child protection and social welfare specialists, courts, psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists. Project activities are designed for separated parents, families, children and referring professionals.
The target group for the “No Kids in the Middle” training: separated couples who have caught the attention of child protection and social workers; confrontational divorced couples unable to find out-of-court solutions for child custody, meeting arrangements, maintenance, etc. Children of divorced couples. Up to 6 pairs (12 adults) in each group, and a simultaneous group for the children growing in this family.