The prospect of raising your concerns with your partner/ex-partner may seem daunting.
However, keeping this from them will only cause further division and give more power to the Extremist organisations that your child is involved with.
We understand that it can be a difficult conversation to have, but it is in the best interest of both the parents and the child, that not only do you have that conversation but that you work together.
Begin by arranging a time and date when you are both free, keep your schedules open so the conversation is not rushed, or you are limited to time.
Whether this conversation is in person or via phone, arrange it in a place where you feel both feel comfortable, ensure it is in an area where you can both talk openly and freely without concerns of being overheard.
Have some paper and a pen handy so you can take notes.
It’s possible that a lot will be said in this conversation, so taking notes of anything important will help to refresh your memory later.
Also have a list written down of your concerns or any questions that you have.
It’s easy in the emotion of the conversation to go off track, having a general guide will help you stay focused on the important issues.
Begin the conversation by telling them that you believe that they are a great parent and that you are not looking to blame anyone. We can all get defensive if we feel we are being personally attacked so reassurance can really help. Ask them if they have noticed any changes with your child, it is important that you both allow each other input and you both have a chance to voice your opinions, and its just as important that you both listen to what each other has to say.
It may be that one parent hasn’t noticed any changes
Maybe the child doesn’t reside full time with them meaning that those changes that one parent is seeing would be harder for the other parent to spot.
Some signs of radicalisation can easily be dismissed as typical teenage behaviour or behaviours may be a reflection to some medical diagnoses, they have such as Autism, Asperger’s etc.
If changes haven’t been noticed do not get frustrated, sometimes it just needs one parent to highlight these changes and a parent may then notice changes for themselves.
Do not dismiss any concerns, just because you haven’t seen it for yourself that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Assure the other parent that you hear and understand their concerns and you are taking them seriously.
Ask the other parent is there anything in particular that you can do? and not only with regards to your child but also to support each other moving forward.
Assure them that you will all work to get through this together and that they are not alone.
Offer practical solutions such as offering to go to any meeting or appointments with them that concern your child and getting actively involved with any outside support your child may receive.
When and where possible allow the other parent a break by spending additional time with your child, when a child is involved in extremism it is both emotionally and physically exhausting, it’s extremely important for parents to have that essential time to try to switch off occasionally.
You may disagree on how to deal with certain matters, for instance one parent may think the solution is to have a stern chat with your child and tell them to stop and that’s their job done, not only would that likely be ineffective, but it could also make matters worse.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to dealing with a child involved in extremism and every case and child is different.
Discuss various options and ideas and learn to compromise, if one method fails then do not blame whoever came up with that idea, offer each other support and move on.
Take time to research and understand radicalisation, share your knowledge with each other.
Exit Hate UK have a designated page with recommendations to links and websites that we believe you may find informative and useful.
Exit Hate UK also have a family support forum, here you can share your stories without judgement, you can have the benefit of other parent’s experiences, a place where you can pick up ideas from other and talk to people that completely understand what you are going through.
Sarah - Exit Support Officer
Mom of a Former Far-Right Activist