This month we are shining the spotlight on
What is your name?
Stacey Barrass, divorcee, mother of 3 ‘crazy’ boys, Managing Director of a domestic and commercial cleaning company; www.thedomesticgoddess.com.au and encourager of building self-esteem in women who have escaped from domestic violence situations.
How long have you been separated for?
I have been divorced for approximately 8 years.
How many children do you have?
I have 3 children, all boys.
How old are your children?
My children are 13, 10 and 6.
Was the decision to separate a mutual decision between you and your ex?
My marriage dissolved as a result of a mutual decision. We were both moving in different directions.
Did you have to get lawyers involved following your separation or were you able to work everything out between you?
Lawyers were involved following our separation. We could not agree on outcomes prior to.
Looking back on your separation would you do anything differently?
I’m quite comfortable with how we managed our separation however, looking back, I would change the manner in how I spoke to my ex afterwards. Even though I wasn’t angry with him directly, I found it difficult to control my emotions at times. My boys were present during some of these discussions and my manner would definitely have been viewed as derogatory. My children felt uncomfortable when they were present with the 2 of us. Once our mannerisms towards each other changed in a positive manner, so did the children’s opinion of how we dealt with the situation.
Did the separation have any significant impact/s on your children?
I believe that my children started to feel a sense of loss and a quite strong insecurity for some time. Keeping a routine and also providing support for them emotionally was exactly what they needed to keep moving forward.
Did the separation have any impact on your relationship with your children at the time? If so how?
At the time of my separation, I feel that the impact on my relationship with my children was all positive in the majority of areas. We did have issues with one son trying to pit one of us against the other for his own benefit, however we worked that one out quite quickly. As a family, we created new rules for the house about how we treat each other, speak to each other and encourage each other. They are a constant source of referral when life gets prickly!
Did you ever engage the services of a Counsellor or Psychologist to help you or your children through the separation process? If so do you feel it was beneficial to you or your children?
I felt that we didn’t require the services of a Counsellor or Psychologist to help us.
What is your relationship with your ex like now?
My relationship with my ex is quite neutral. We make our own decisions for the boys when they are in our own homes. When there are larger decisions regarding schooling, sports or extracurricular activities, we simply discuss the logistics of it and make a decision.
What is your relationship with your children like now?
My relationship with my children is amazing. We have open, honest discussions that are well rounded. Some become robust at times however, my children know that I respect them, their views and opinions. They understand that I am strict and also my expectations of them now that they are older.
If you could give one piece of advice to parents going through separation regarding their children what would it be?
Never, ever use your children as a pawn in your separation/custody negotiations. Where personal safety issues are not and issue, neither parent has the right to reduce the other parents’ amount of custody time to below 50/50. A child has the absolute need to spend equal time with either parent. Keep your emotions in check and LISTEN to your children for what THEY want. What you want personally as a parent is secondary to what is the best possible outcome for the children.