Tips for Coping

A parent in a great deal of emotional pain can unintentionally lose sight of their child’s needs. When a child is burdened with comforting the parent, the sense of responsibility increases that child’s anxiety and distress. When a parent becomes stuck in grief, a child will often become similarly stuck. Alternatively, when parents feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and anxiety for their child, they are no longer able to provide the consistency and structure that provides the safety and security for their child. Children can then experience the additional loss of a healthy, functioning parenting. To best protect your children from the fall-out of divorce, it is essential that they receive an abundance of support and guidance from a parent who can maintain the familiar discipline and routines. You need to be the best you possible.

Here are some things you can do:

 

  • Reach out. Seek comfort from those who have experienced a similar loss. Knowing they have recovered gives you hope that in time, your grief will be less raw and less painful as well.

 

  • Get Help. Seek out resources and professionals to help you manage the financial, emotional and other stresses of separation. Make lists to get organised and keep you on track.

 

  • Maintain routines and rituals. Minimize change as much as possible to provide comfort and a stable environment.

 

  • Self-care. Grief is emotionally draining. Eat regularly; get enough sleep and physical activity. Pamper yourself. Use meditation, music or favourite pastime to replenish your energy.

 

  • Live in the present. Close the door to the past. Focus on the things you can change and let go of those you can’t.

 

  • Set small goals. Goals help you move forward and provide structure and direction to your life. Assess your life now and picture what you want it to look like in the future. Have an action plan and follow it!

 

  • Take baby steps. Before making any major decision, think about it, sleep on it, then think about it some more. Decisions made at this time will impact the rest of your life. It may be best to give yourself plenty of time before making major decisions such as a career change, moving to another community, going back to school or getting involved with someone new.

 

  • Take time. Time alone, as well as time with others whom you can trust and who will listen when you need to talk. Time to journal. Time to cry and to grieve fully every day. Time to understand the feelings which go along with loss. Time to heal.

 

The thing that experts agree on is that although divorce is difficult and stressful for kids no matter what, the real harm to kids comes from being subjected to conflict between parents. The longer that lasts, and the more severe it is, the worse it is for your children. If you truly want to shield your children from the pain of divorce, recognize that the more you take the high road with your spouse, the better job you’ll do.

EMILY DOSKOW, Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce

Starfish Family Resources advises that these materials are not intended to replace any counselling and/or legal intervention that may be required for families experiencing separation/divorce. Furthermore, if your family is experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, addictions or family violence, professionals skilled in these areas should be consulted.