Supporting your Children after Separation
If you have recently become a single parent, it will have had a huge impact on you and your children’s lives, regardless of whether you wanted the separation or not. Even though you may be having a rough time emotionally, remaining realistic and focussed to the needs of the children can help you to through the process. Read on for some tips on how you can help your children...
You may have a feeling of liberation or desperation; however every family member may be feeling differently and will need to find different ways of coping. Your children may feel vulnerable. Often they will express this by acting up or reverting to childish ways. They may blame you and you will be the one dealing with the backlash of this behaviour. They have had their world turned upside down and by acting up they are showing that they need lots of reassurance that you are not going to leave too.
Try and keep consistent with your children’s day to day routine
They need to feel that they still have some control over what is going on in their lives, that they will still be going to Brownies on a Tuesday eve or the football games on a Sunday.
Keep communication open
Be as honest (age appropriate) as you can with your children about what is happening. If you feel overcome by the emotional aspect of it all, it is fine to share that with them and it will help them to put their thoughts and feelings into words too. However the children need to see that you are coping and that you are strong, so have your moment and then move on. This will be teaching them how to cope with the difficult times in our lives.
It's good to talk
If your child thinks that you may be over concerned, anxious or angry, they may hold back from telling you how they feel. Your child may find it hard to talk to you about the changing family situation, so it is important that you give them the opportunity to talk to a third party, for example grandparents, friends (yours and theirs), another adult family member or a professional. You could let them know that you can see that they are finding things difficult and suggest they talk to someone at Childline, as it can really help.
Don’t vent your feelings about your ex
Do not do this in front of your children. You might feel furious or desolate as to how your ex is behaving, but really try and get into the 'habit' of saving this for a friend, counsellor or support worker.
Look after yourself
When your emotions are all over the place it is not easy to keep on top of all that parenting demands. Just aim to be the best parent you can be at any given time. We are always told to put our children’s needs first and that can feel like our needs are not valid, but it is important to look after yourself too. For your children to thrive, you need to start thriving too. You may want to read our article How to Recover from a Broken Heart
Coping at first
In the 12 months after separating, you will face a lot of firsts. When you have been through these once, they do get easier. The first Christmas separated, the first children’s birthday, the first summer holiday, the first parents evening. You may well reminisce about good times you had, ‘this time last year’ or you may be celebrating your new found freedom. If you are struggling with finding yourself parenting alone, find out some of the positives in the discussion: The best thing about being a single parent is…?
Other articles you might find interesting:
- Family Breakup Ages 14 - 19 Years
- Top 10 Tips for Parenting Alone
- Will I Ever Trust Anyone Again
- Feeling Depressed
- Coping with Stress and Anxiety
If you are worried about a child or young person, YoungMinds provides a telephone helpline service to parents and carers in the UK who have a concern about their child's emotional problems or behaviour.