Putting Children First: a handbook for separated parents
Karen and Nick Woodall
Published by Piatkus ISBN 0-7499-2804-2
Putting Children First, written by Karen and Nick Woodall, is a brand new book which helps parents to manage the changes that come as a result of family separation so that the impact on children is reduced and they are able to achieve their full potential.
‘Parental separation affects many children and their families. Some three million of our twelve million children will experience the separation of their parents during the course of their childhood. Each year we estimate that between 150,000-200,000 parental couples separate who have been married or cohabiting. If separation is handled well, any adverse impact on their children may be limited, in terms of both time and severity. Many children of separated parents thrive and flourish. But when separation goes badly and in particular, where children are drawn into parental conflict, then the effects can be damaging for children. Evidence shows that children in this situation suffer poorer outcomes and reduced life-chances. They are more likely to achieve less well at school, to truant or to run away from home. If, however, parents are able to resolve their differences about parenting issues at the time of separation and then subsequently, these risks can be avoided.’ 
Our work at the Centre for Separated Families is based on giving parents the tools and strategies to help them move away from conflict and towards building co-operative parenting relationships after family separation.
Putting Children First is based on one of the programmes developed by the Centre called Children in Focus. The aim of Children in Focus is to help parents to deal with the challenges that family separation throws up, to understand what children are likely to be experiencing and to provide an atmosphere in which children are helped to cope with and adjust to the new circumstances.
The book is aimed at both parents, regardless of whether they are the ‘parent with care’ or the ‘non-resident parent’ and deals with the different family relationships. It offers strategies and skills like:
- Parenting Plans
- Scripted Phone Calls
- Parenting Meetings
- Co-operative Parenting Contracts
As authors and family practitioners, we don’t expect parents to continue to like each other – we know that in the majority of cases this is completely unrealistic – but we do know that it is possible to build a new parenting relationship that puts the needs and wellbeing of your children above the anger and sadness that you may be experiencing as a result of the ending of your adult relationship.
Putting Children First offers you insights, tools and case studies to show how it is possible to manage family separation without putting your children at a greater risk of suffering poorer outcomes and reduced life-chances. Whatever you are going through, Putting Children First can help you deal with it and move on, knowing that you are better equipped to make the right choices for your children.
 Regulatory Impact Assessment: Children and Adoption Bill