SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER! : Top marks for effort – ?

For many parents, the summer break presents at least a slight sense of pressure as to keeping all bases covered, but majorly, hopefully, the pleasure of being able to spend meaningful time with their children. However, the six week break (sun or no sun) can mean a whole range of things to different people, who either have school age children or are connected with them. Here are just a collection of the issues and emotions our family Clients at Bennett Griffin share with us.

• Dreading having to talk with their ex-partner/the other parent/carer/grandparents/extended family for the purposes of setting up holiday contact.
• Feeling upset and/or apprehensive about the fact that they won’t see their children for blocks of time because they will be staying with the other parent/carer/grandparents/extended family.
• Grandparents/extended family worrying that they will be expected to provide significant childcare, meaning they may have to change their own personal routine and plans, and provide that care, perhaps at their own expense.
• Grandparents/extended family having to mediate between the (still) “at war” parents, whilst trying to do their best to ensure that the children have stability and fun.
• Teachers (who may experience all or any of the above, as parent/carer/grandparents/extended family also), relishing the opportunity to re-connect with their own children, having spent so much time helping bring up other peoples’ children -!

We all have one thing in common: the routine of the school calendar is lost and this can create freedom, as well as a lack of structure. With the latter, comes the fear of the unknown for some children, and for others, the opportunity to push boundaries. The comfort and support offered by the professionals at school, the steadying force for most children, cannot be under-estimated. Parental patience will be stretched to new limits. The battle begins to force your 8 year old into the park (“…because it’s good for you, that’s WHY!!!…”), whilst surgically removing their game controller!

Food Banks, (the mere existence of which is alarming in 2019) will be busier than ever, as there will be no free school meals. It is currently the case that all children up to and including year 2, age 6 to 7 years, have the opportunity to have a proper/hot meal at school. Several Churches and Community Centres rely on voluntary help and generosity to provide “space at the table”, free or subsidised meals for families during the holiday time, as it is recognised that, sadly, there will be some children who suffer if this additional resource is not provided.

So, just like the temperature, there are highs and lows and all levels of happiness and stress in between at this time. If any of the above resonates with you (and it is by no means an exhaustive list) and you would like to talk through how things could be different, and improve the life of a child you help care for (and indeed your own wellbeing), then do contact Family lawyer Jackie Gifford (01903 229903 jg@bennett-griffin.co.uk) or myself and put us to the test. We have the legal answers to help you make the grades (sorry, couldn’t resist) and can connect you with trusted professionals who can help with the all-important related emotional, therapeutic, and counselling concerns.

By the way, we are parents/carers/grandparents/extended family too, so when we say that we hear you, we really do. Have a good summer all.

Jackie Mensah is a Family and Collaborative lawyer and Worthing Law Society Past President 2018-2019, contactable on 01903 229914 jnm@bennett-griffin.co.uk.