For Separated Parents
I would first like to acknowledge that I write from a separated parent perspective and I am supportive and compassionate to all single parents, regardless of race, gender or age etc.
I think single parents receive some bad press, however, single or together is not the issue here. How we relate to one another is. Relationships being the key to having a happier life.
Secondly, I’m sure you will agree with me, being a separated parent can be incredibly tough. We may feel like we are up and down emotionally, not sure how to feel. Usually tensions are high, there are feelings of hurt that turn into anger and for some an overwhelming sadness.
So what can help us get through this challenging time?
In my experience, compassion, support, time and eventually acceptance and forgiveness.
Compassion for yourself. You may feel guilty, this is part of the process of parenting and loss, if we don't forgive ourselves or others we remain often in such a place that is destructive, to you, the other parent and the children. Be your own best friend. Be good to yourself. Allow your self time to feel what you need too and work through those feelings. Find ways to let go of these emotions that are not harmful to you or anyone else. Be creative, write a journal, sing, exercise, talk.
Time and Support
Who can we talk to?
Finding another adult to talk to is maintaining good self-care and is necessary for a healthy mind and emotional state.
Someone who isn't involved and can remain objective usually helps. It is healthy to show emotions in front of our children, leaning on them for emotional support causes them to feel too responsible for us. Children love both parents and it is good for them to let this continue to happen. How you feel is not how they feel. Unless there are safe guarding issues, seeing you both working together as separated parents helps them cope with the changes and loss.
Stages of loss below. We may not go through them all at once or in the same way. Grief is individual and can be very different for each person. No one can tell you how you should be feeling.
Is time precious for you? It is for me. Changes in life take time to adjust too. We are creatures of habit and also we may feel highly emotional in the first few months or it may take longer. Take time to grieve your loss and recover.
If you do find yourself stuck or struggling day to day to cope, letting down our guard and seeking help is one small step forward.
Children also need time to adjust to changes that are happening. Help children to feel safe and secure, reassure them and communicate it's not their fault, this reduces many major emotional and behavioural issues.
They may struggle with the separation needing some professional support too. This is not your fault.
Schools and GPS initially are a good source of first contact for support
Often explaining to schools what is happening and that life is challenging for you all due to the changes will help them to understand and offer more support.
My son went through a real challenging time dealing with loss. I spoke to the school and I could not believe the difference in a week. They gave him lots of general encouragement and praise to help boost his confidence.
Asking for help can take courage. I felt like I needed to cope due to the work I do. Once I accepted that I'm allowed to have problems and not be superhuman, life became much easier. Be brave and ask for help.
Acceptance and forgiveness – moving on
These are words often presenting challenges. I can hear some say there is no way I'm forgiving my ex-partner. At one time I would have felt the like this too.
Managing our emotions is undoubtedly difficult when we feel betrayed or hurt.
Part of moving forward means letting go of the past and the emotions that we feel
connected to what happened . We may hold onto our anger and resentment, what does this do? Keeps us stuck in a cycle of frustration, anger, guilt, resentment. Feeling stuck can be emotionally debilitating and draining. I've been there a few times. What's important is what and learning from how we got in the pit and how we get out.
Accept ‘What it was, what it is and what it shall be’
Whether we are angry at ex partners, ourselves or someone else, we are blaming someone. Blame means what? That we are not taking responsibility for our own life.
We may find it leads to us feeling deeply depressed, physically ill and our relationships deteriorate with others at home and at work. Many separated parents who have high conflict seek medical treatment for depression. Children in high conflict situations also may need professional and medical help due to the effects on their emotional health and well -being health.
It is good for our children to see us moving on in time, so they can. Life is tough right!
We need to be tougher, become more resilient. Reducing conflict helps children feel more secure, sociable, and happier. Think about how you know your child is happy? What do they do, how do they look? How do you feel? Often when we are happier our children reflect our behaviour. Of course life has its challenges that inevitably affect our mood, we can learn to accept these into our life, if we accept that life does not run continuously smooth.
Remember your own and your family’s life is precious and time is precious.
Make the most of your life! Make different and better choices. Remember this, if you always do what you’ve always done, is it likely that repeating your actions only leads you to the same place time and time again. Feel familiar? How frustrating that is too. It is like ground hog day.
Move forward not round in circles
Start to turn your life around today. Make small changes each day and you will see the difference.
If you've enjoyed reading this and want to read more.
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www.windmillsoftheminds.com. Also I am hosting a radio show ‘It's Your Life’ focusing on living your life, with guest speakers talking on social and health topics. Starting in the middle of March 2015 on Thursdays 12-1pm on Sine FM local Doncaster radio. http://www.sinefm.com/ the radio is available worldwide on the Internet. Shows can be listened to for a week after they broadcast on the website so listen out for me.
Written by Sarah Thorpe
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