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Separation troubles? Talk it out in the listening room

Tags: listening room

Whether we’re going through a separation, or we’ve separated for a while, many of us feel like we need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, or a space where we can just vent. Yet, for some reason, we’re too embarrassed to talk to our friends or family about some of our problems – especially if they haven’t been through a similar situation.

Even speaking to a counsellor is out of the question for many of us. Firstly, there’s the cost implication that puts many of us off. Then, there’s the social stigma that comes with seeing a specialist. A survey by OnePlusOne found that 43% of adults wouldn’t want anyone to know that they’d seen a counsellor.

So who can we turn to when we need someone to just listen to us?

TheParentConnection has re-launched its Listening Room service to give you a safe, anonymous, online space where you can offload your sepration worries.

Whether you feel your ex isn’t hearing your concerns, you’re worried about how you’ll cope, or you’re unsure of what the future holds, the team of Listening Room helpers, who are all trained counsellors, are on-hand to listen.

‘We know that relationship issues affect our health and wellbeing and the earlier people can get help the better,’ says Jan Mitcheson, Deputy Director of Innovation at OnePlusOne. ‘We also know that most people don’t want to go to counselling when they first start running into trouble. The Listening Room service lets people get support when they need it; it’s free and it helps.’

The Listening Room will be open seven nights a week from 9pm – 10pm.

Follow the below steps to use the service:

  • First sign-up to
  • Once you've signed-in during the opening hours, click on 'Chat now' in the bottom right-hand side of the screen to activate the Listening Room.
  • Wait for the helper to send you their welcome message.
  • Type your questions into the text box to begin the conversation.

TheParentConnection also offers a separation advice forum where you can also receive support from members of the community.

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  • Pc Bern Flag

    Hi jodie44, thank you for your post and describing the many challenges you've had with your son's father. I get the feeling that your experiences 8 years ago were extremely upsetting and the memories still have the power to upset you.
    Quite rightly, I think that you're trying to work out whether your son's father genuinely wants to have relationship with his son which would be beneficial to your boy or whether he's just curious and not bothered enough to put himself out. It is impressive that you're open to supporting a relationship developing and the idea of using a contact centre isn't bad. Maybe you should wait to see what his suggestion is for getting to know his son. If he is sincere, it could be nice for your son but I guess you don't want him to be let down.........
    Can I suggest that you post on the Forum as you'll get more responses from the community. Also, the Listening Room is open between 9pm and 10pm each day.

    Thu 15, Jan 2015 at 9:33pm
  • User-anonymous jodie44 Flag

    Hi Im new to this , I have brought my 8yr up alone since split with his Dad while I was pregnant, he has never helped me through the pregnancy or come to the scans or test I had to have, he had already moved on with someone else. He came to see me in hospital the day after and when I came out a week later as I had to have an emergency c section. He came for a hour a day to help me as I couldn't lift, but his girlfriend soon put a stop to this, so was only once a week, I also have 2 older sons 7yrs and 9yrs and was on my own bringing them up, I had no family to help so times were hard. Never thought I be on my own again, my sons dad had hold his son in his arms and said you should have had him aborted, I asked him to leave. But allowed him back the next week as I was putting my son first and believe children should have their fathers in their lifes depending on circumstances of course.He wanted to take his son who was a month old to his house where he lived with his girlfriend but my middle son wouldn't let him and cried when he told him off, but eventually I agreed to this. And once a week he had his son, I would pick him up and his father smelt of alcohol strongly and our son had been sleep all the time not even been feed, this happened a lot, but the finally straw was when he started to tx me while his girlfriend was in bed wanting to come round for sex. I couldn't handle anymore, and comforted the pair of them. I had only just had a baby and as well as coping alone with things, I had the stress of him and her. She threaten to have my lads beat up which upset them at the time so the police were involved and we had to move house as he only live 3 doors away from us and he wasn't prepared to move. I was close to a breakdown with all the stress.I didn't keep in touch with him but told his mum where we moved to so contact was kept with her, she visited on birthday s and Christmas and he knew where I lived. I carried on with my life but happen to bump into his wife now that was his girlfriend in the doctors, my son was 4yr now and she said he wanted to see his son, I didn't have problem with this and wanted to sort it out, telephone numbers were exchange but nothing became of it. Then this chirstmas my son is 8yrs by now so it has been 7yrs since he saw his dad, he gets present off him for the first time since he was born. His mum told me he wants see him, I told her we have to talk about it. 2weeks later his wife stopped me in the street and says thanks for agreeing gave me her phone number, I told her that we needed to talk. My first question was why now, his answer was he thought his son had missed out on a dad and he had missed out that be nice for him to get to know his side of the family. My son has 2 older brothers now 15 and 17 and I have a partner of 3yrs, we always been there for him. I said being as they stranger s to him been 7yrs since last contact that I would prefer a contact centre, because of the sress they both put me through couldn't be in same room as them, so I found a local one but he worked that day. It would have only took maybe 3 session to bond before I was happy to let him have access, but he couldn't give up a few Saturdays once fortnight would have done for this. Don't understand, there are other centres on different days but means travelling more and paying more, Im prepared to do this for my son to get to know his dad. Am I bending over backwards for him, surely if he wanted contact he make effort or find another contact centre, I haven't heard from them since They do have 2 children of their own a 2yr old and a baby so don't know why they want to see my son after 7yrs of not knowing him. Please if anyone can advise or help

    Thu 15, Jan 2015 at 5:56pm
  • Dandelion_pic elli Flag

    Hi to the last poster
    It's hard to live with those uncertainties over Christmas - thank fully your partner has your support as it's so important to have someone who'll listen.
    There is an option of returning to mediation. If your partner's considering applying to court then he'd usually be expected to have attended a mediation information meeting within the previous four months. But perhaps as his ex has now agreed to restart the arrangements this is an indication that she's accepting your relationship, and it's worth trying to keep things positive. There might be faster progress that way!
    If you post on the forum you're likely to get more responses.

    Wed 31, Dec 2014 at 10:41am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Hi I need a bit of advice as of what to do next. My partner an his ex split up about 2 and hlf years ago they have a daughter whos 3. She constantly let him down with access to seeing his daughter, they went through mediation and agreed he could have his daughter a Friday night and Sunday day but she constantly breaks this agreement. But then when we got together she refused him access as he had moved on into a new relationship. We have been together now a year and half and she only recently is allowing him sort of access (3 hours a week) he constantly asks for more time with his daughter the mother always refuses says its her way or no way! Which isn't fair on him or his daughter it's heartbreaking seeing him hurting not being able to spend time with his daughter. Even with her allowing these 3 hours a week she still messes him around with times and days etc. e doesn't know what else he can do now we can't afford to take her to court is there anything we can do other than save for a while to go to court? He's worried this could aske us a while and Until then only gets 3 hours a week with his daughter.
    Thanks in advance

    Mon 29, Dec 2014 at 5:02pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    You must be worried about the effect this is having on your friend. It sounds like the court process has been stressful and now, even with a court order, the conflict is carrying on. My thoughts are that, if she hasn't already, your friend should get legal advice. Court Orders are expected to be complied with unless there's a good reason for them to be changed. If the Order was put in place some time ago, it may well need to be reviewed and going back to court is one option. A better option for some people is to go to mediation as there's a better chance of sorting things out once and for all rather than having to go to court every time someone wants to change the arrangements.
    If your friend was in court recently, say a few months ago, the court's decision is unlikely to change.

    Can I suggest that you post this on the Forum, as you will get more responses

    Wed 12, Nov 2014 at 9:46am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Hi, I am looking for advice on behalf of my friend, she is divorcing her husband and a visitation order has been set up. Throughout the whole process he has insisted on taking her back to court as he wants to have their daughter 70% of the time and my friend disagrees. In the end the magistrates sorted it out so that he was allowed a good amount of contact, he has her for a coup,e of overnight stays and sees her during the week. He is now refusing to follow the order, saying he wants her most of the time even though residency is with her mum. He is saying he will take her back to court. What are my friend's rights and and how often can he do this?

    Mon 10, Nov 2014 at 2:19pm
  • User-anonymous canvine Flag

    Hi Sinead,
    Thanks for your reply. Yes I think you're right, I think it's the guilt in my head more than anything else. The truth is, the shifts meant I hardly saw them for 4 days before the split and that was hard on them anyway. It's not just the guilt of the separation, but the guilt of working. It's a tough time to live in for parents I think! So many pressures. Thank you, I think the message is to forgive myself and make the most of how it is now.
    Thanks again
    Emma :-)

    Sat 17, May 2014 at 3:24pm
  • User-anonymous Sinead Flag

    It sounds like you both love these children very much and want the best for them. What is just as impressive is that you and your ex are able to talk about it all as you try to find the best way forward for them. It may be that your children are reacting to your anxiety and doubt as much as the situation. If you think about it there are some jobs where Mum is away for several day each week..acting, events managers etc. As long as good childcare is in place (and it sounds like your ex and his parents are good at this ) the children get used to the routine. It may be that if you can accept you are doing the best you can for them as things are they will eventually feel more secure and not upset. What do you think?

    Fri 16, May 2014 at 5:20pm
  • User-anonymous canvine Flag

    This is my story...Myself and my partner split up fairly recently, around 9 months ago. I work 12 hour shifts, 4 on, 4 off, both nights and days, so we agreed to split the childcare 50/50, with my ex having the kids on the 4 days I work. It has been really difficult for the children during this time, they were 5 and 3 when we separated and have just turned 4 and 6. They struggle not seeing me for 4 days and it tears me apart because I don't have any way of having them more due to my work. I gave my ex all the benefits as he works part time and that was the only way he could afford to house them and look after them. My shifts enable me to afford to house and look after them, so changing my job to normal hours is not really an option unless I take more of the childcare, benefits, etc, which means my ex won't be able to care for them.
    I know that it is still early days and they are young, but it kills me when I speak to them and they cry cos they want a cuddle and want to see me. I was always a firm believer in equal rights for parents and that both parents are just as important, but I am now starting to the mum the one they need the most after all? Or is it just that I have a better bond/relationship with them? I have the benefit of not working the whole time I have them so I suppose I am there for them and they feel more stable with me. When my ex has them he works part time and so they are often picked up by one of their grandparents. So maybe it's the stability they need rather than the mother?
    My littlest starts school in September so will finish later and so it will be more often than not that their dad picks them both up from school. Perhaps then they will feel more stable there?
    I have been considering popping to see them when they are on "daddy days" now and again so they don't feel they are missing me so much, but we tried that before and it only seemed to make things worse as they wanted me for longer, but I couldn't due to work. It's ups and downs overall. Sometimes when I call they are fine, other times they are upset and want me. Sometimes I wonder if calling is a bad thing, but I want them to know I think about them and love them. It's really hard!
    Has anyone got any ideas/tips, etc?
    The good thing is, the ex and I communicate fairly well with no major disputes so these are things we can discuss. It's just knowing what is best and working out a solution
    If anyone has any advice they can give me, it would be much appreciated. We are all really struggling at the moment :-(

    Thu 15, May 2014 at 10:20am
  • Pc Jamie Flag

    Sophia 2014 , the listening room is open from 9.00pm to 10.00pm if you want to talk

    Mon 14, Apr 2014 at 7:57pm
  • User-anonymous Sinead Flag

    What a tough situation to be in. It sounds like you are determined to go back to court for fair access. Separate from that is how you manage your relationship with your son in the meantime. It must be heartbreaking for you to know he is upset and wanting to be with you. If he is at boarding school, is it possible you you to contact him through letters and Skype or FaceTime , may be doing this already. I know it's not the same as being with you, but at least it would be a constant reminder of your love for and commitment to him. As Jaybee says he is of an age now when what he says will carry more weight, so given the secure base your love provides,, I cannot imagine that it will be long before he successfully asserts his right to be with you.

    Fri 14, Feb 2014 at 2:50pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Hi Elli, this website states that the new law coming into effect makes an assumption of shared parenting unless there is risk associated to the child and that "Shared parenting" in legal terms usually means there will be a ‘presumption’ that when parents separate children should spend an equal or nearly equal amount of time with both parents … a 50-50 split. This is stated under the legal tab about the new law that is about to come into effect.

    Thu 13, Feb 2014 at 4:23pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Thank you jaybee, I don't think I have any other choice, otherwise my son will miss out spending a large part of his childhood in one of his family homes. He wants a better balance and his views are being downtrodden by his mother who is only interested in what she wants rather than what is a fair and balanced for him. Will also post it on the forum for other views...

    Thu 13, Feb 2014 at 4:09pm
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    Sounds like you're clear that you want this to go back to court and that you want your son's voice to be heard. At 10 years old, I would expect the court to share your view that his wishes are very important. So, don't give up!
    Do look at our Forum. You might want to 're-post' this there - a better chance of getting ideas and advice from the wider community.

    Thu 13, Feb 2014 at 10:04am
  • Dandelion_pic elli Flag

    Hi there, which website says the legal interpretation is an assumption that shared parenting means 50:50? I don't think that's the intention...

    Still, a hard situation. Your son does have a voice which could be heard. Hopefully in a way that avoids stress / him feeling caught in a dispute in any way which would reduce his energy and enjoyment of school, friends etc.

    Sounds like each of you / your legal representatives has at some point had an "ex from hell" view of the other. Do keep lines of communication open so that this view doesn't get in the way of any conversations which might make things easier for your son. And good luck. I hope you can get to a position where he can enjoy his whole family soon.

    Wed 12, Feb 2014 at 11:03am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Thanks Jamie, I think you are right. Do you have a view as to whether I should wait until the new family bill is passed this year which supports shared parenting, and this website states that the usual legal interpretation of shared parenting means an assumption of a 50-50 share of time. In our case there is no reason why this cannot be achieved other than for his mother's marginalisation objectives.

    Mon 10, Feb 2014 at 7:58pm
  • Pc Jamie Flag

    I think if she refuses to even consider mediation then your only option is to take it back to court and request that your son ahs a voice in the process .
    good luck

    Mon 10, Feb 2014 at 7:40pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    Thanks for your advice Bern, we have tried mediation extensively but my ex wife is adamant and simply will not budge in her position. My lawyers describe her as the 'ex wife from hell' and 'an immovable object' on the matter. It would be great if we could all sit in one room and for my son to be allowed to air his wishes, but this will not be allowed to happen by his mother. He asked me over the weekend by phone to address the situation so that he can come home and he told me that his mother and new step father sat him down on Sunday and told him (in his words) 'a pack of lies' about why she would not allow him to come home and that it was now down to me to bring his 6 month old sister down to visit him for lunch. We do not have a 'pizza hut' relationship, his very rich home life with us has been ripped away from him purely for his mother's own over controlling and historic bitter reasons. Now that our son will be 11 this Summer he is openly becoming more vocal in wanting to come to his dad's home regularly in the same way that other children do at school with divorced parents. Do you think the new shared parenting law will help me achieve a better balance and share of his non-school time? and how does my son exert his rights and wishes to achieve an equal balance of his time between both parents?

    Mon 10, Feb 2014 at 11:36am
  • Pc Bern Flag

    How sad for you and your son that you don't get to spend much time together. Your experience of going to court sounds awful too. That's the thing unfortunately, about court - the outcome can be very unpredictable; it's expensive and it tends to heighten the conflict between parents.
    Because of that, I wondered if you and your ex would be willing to try mediation? Both your points of view would be heard and you'd feel less disadvantaged not being up against a top barrister. The important thing in all of this is that your son shouldn't feel caught in the middle of warring parents. Some mediation services offer children a meeting for them to have their say about the situation. Children are never asked to make decisions but parents often find it helpful when they're sorting out the arrangements to have in mind what the child is feeling. There's more information in this article -

    Mon 10, Feb 2014 at 10:50am
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    I have a situation where I split from my wife of 10 years when our son was 1, he is now 10. From the day we split my ex wife has been an immovable object in marginalising me from my son's life stemming from the bitterness of the divorce, she has never communicated and has made all contact very difficult. She would not let me have my son at all for the first 6 months so this was put right by me taking her to court and obtaining a staying contact order so that he was with me alternate weekends and a few weeks holiday each year. From the age of 1-8 I would drive the 4 hour round trip to collect on alternate Friday nights and my ex would collect on Sunday afternoon. I attempted to increase our holiday time to a fairer share but she would not budge.
    Two years ago she engineered a situation where she put him into a top boarding school very quickly without my knowledge and married a governor of the school. This is a school that recently had an ex Headmaster and several teachers found guilty of child sex abuse. I didn't want my son to go to this school and wanted our alternate weekend contact to remain. Her family is extremely wealthy so money is no object, whereas I do not have a strong financial position. The Family Magistrates Court could not have gone worse for me, their barrister made me out to be a character of disrepute and no attempt was made whatsoever by the unqualified lay magistrates to explore the strength of relationship my son had at home with me, his grandparents and his 5 cousins of a similar age, his wishes and feelings were not taken into consideration and Cafcass were not consulted, despite having previously said that regular contact was 'vital' for us due to the pressures of his mother in trying to cut me out of his life. I had a 26 year old inexperienced barrister and I have now lost regular contact with my son as a result. Sadly a new order was created that means my son is not able to come home for long periods of up to 3 months each year and this is upsetting him immensely as he has a new 6 month old sister he is missing out on seeing growing up and he wants to be with his dad and sleep in his own bed. I tried to appeal immediately but the judge said that an appeal could not progress as the decision made was within the parameters that the Family Magistrates Court could make, so I was left high and dry and even had to pay costs!!
    I have to take this issue back to court because my son is hurting badly. He is pleading with both me and his mum to be able to come back home. She simply will not allow it. The new family legislation coming out this year has a presumption that shared parenting should be adopted and I am hoping this may help me achieve what both my son and I want, which is an equal amount of non-school time with both parents. My son is now getting increasingly vocal and emotional about the situation and every time he raises it with his mother she avoids the issue and says that I have to bring the family down to see him, and he cannot avoid crying.
    What do I do? Any advise welcome please....

    Mon 10, Feb 2014 at 9:26am