Ask the Expert - Single Parenting and Relationships

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Louise Burke is our Single Parenting and Relationships expert she has been supporting separated parents for over 10 years.

Louise is a member of The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists with additional training in drug and alcohol addictions, domestic abuse, spiritual counselling and a specialism in working with people who have suffered sexual abuse.

Get support with the important relationships in your life:

  • Your children
  • Ex partners
  • New partners
  • Ex In-laws
  • Other family relationships

Louise offers personalised email advice and will respond within 7 working days.




Common single parent concerns
I really hate it when my child goes to see their dad, especially now he has a new partner. What if she starts “playing mum” to my daughter?
The first thing to say is that no-one will ever replace you in your child’s eyes or their heart. Don’t forget that it will be really helpful for your child to have another adult who is interested in them and this may be a great relief if you have been worried about the time they spend with her dad. It’s important that you don’t dwell on things when your child is away. Use the time to go somewhere or do something that you can’t manage during the time you have your child, have a look at our Top things to do on your child free days.

My girlfriend and I have split up. She is pregnant and she says I am not going to be allowed to be part of my baby’s life. What are my rights?

The “rights” are all the child’s rather than yours. A child has a right to a relationship with its parents provided it is safe to do so. You are able to apply through a court to have your name put on the birth certificate and to have defined parenting time, once the baby has been born. However, it is far better to negotiate this yourself. Your girlfriend may be thinking that withholding contact is punishing you for what happened between you. Show her that you are the bigger person, write a calm letter to her saying that you appreciate that things did not work out for the two of you but you would like to be an involved dad and wish to sort out time with the child and financial support. Offer to meet with a third party present if that is what she prefers, click here to find a local mediator.

I am a single mum to a 15 year old boy. He is impossible these days, can you give me any top tips?
Almost all teenagers have their troubles and please be assured that you’re not alone. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to help things along. The first step is to re-establish a solid relationship between the two of you; you may have been close when he was younger but things can drift along and when teens spend more and more time alone or with their own friends, it can feel as if you have lost touch. Find an activity you can do together, it may not be something you particularly enjoy but whatever he would be willing to do. If he has no ideas, why not take him out for a coffee or watch something funny on TV together. Cement your relationship with some fun times together first and it will enable you to start putting a more structured discipline in place.

For more help and information, why not post on our Parenting Teenagers section on the One Space boards.

Ask Louise your question here and get a personal confidential email response.