In Finland approximately 30,000 children annually experience the divorce of their parents. The separation can upset the child’s sense of security. The best way to cope with the situation is to maintain a good relationship with both parents at the time and after. That means joint custody and a safe neutral place to meet.
The divorce and joint custody can be very stressful for all parties and the idea is that a neutral place where a child feels secure and does not have to be worried about going from parent to parent. Children will be sensitive if the parent is uncomfortable with the changeover or when approaching it.
Because of these issues, it is important that the parents find arrangements for the child’s shift to make the situation as smooth, calm and natural as possible. Library is a public place where children’s department is environmentally neutral and child-friendly. It provides the child with the opportunity to do well in the transition.
What a local library can do?
Sello Library has joined a project where Mannerheimin lastensuojeluliitto – Mannerheim League of Child Welfare (MLL) is trying out a new way to help divorced parents with child. The project takes place during Spring 2019 and is to be continued in the Fall if it shows positive outcomes.
In Sello library Children’s section you can find, among other things, children’s books, playroom and reading corners. Library is highly accommodating to families for there is a car park, children’s toilet and changing room and microwave for warming up formula and food. For example, the child and the parent can play together, read and draw while waiting for the exchange. The facilities also allow for short child-parent meetings. Over here parents can make an exchange without a separate appointment in accordance with their mutual agreements. Nobody asks for user names, residence, or other specific information.
A volunteer by MLL Helsinki is on site and can be contacted by the City of Espoo and the Children First service, while waiting for the exchange. The volunteer is identified by a blue MLL vest. Parents are hoped to tell the volunteer that they have come to exchange. The volunteer also takes care that the situation goes smoothly and there is no hot-tempered exchange of words in the place.
The service is free of charge and can be used by all families, regardless of the place of residence. That being said, if the location is suitable for making the exchange, and the family does not need authoritative controlled exchange.
More information, source of information (in Finnish only) can be found from our website or Mannerheim League of Child Welfare’s website. There is also two media sources: Länsiväylä’s article and Helsingin Sanomat article.