This is a guest blog by Una Archer, a psychologist who specialises in supporting children’s emotional security. She helps separated parents to protect their children from the negative impact of the separation and to resolve the emotional and behavioural issues that might crop up along the way. Details of how to connect with Una appear at the end of the blog below.
I loved reading Louisa’s thoughts and advice in her blog post Are You Taking Responsibility? As a psychologist specialising in supporting children’s emotional security I could not agree more with Louisa and would like to contribute a few further thoughts to this conversation.
The decision to own the responsibility for your feelings, thoughts, communication and actions
is a hugely important step when it comes to protecting your children from the negative impact of the separation.
I’m not saying that it just happens overnight, that it is easy or that it has to be perfectly 100%.
I’m not here to wag my finger at you, instead I would love to talk about the opportunity that is right there, in front of you.
You might feel like your life was like a beautifully ordered necklace once and now the string holding it together has been broken and you are left with random, disconnected handful of beads.
You might be facing your deepest fears, crippling self doubt, the rage you did not know you were capable of before or… a dull numbness. You might be managing ok one minute and then a thought or an email sends you on a spin and it takes hours before you feel the solid ground under your feet again.
Within all that hurt and confusion, somehow you are managing to be there for your children. It’s not all plain sailing, but you are doing your best to carry on with what you did before and perhaps with what used to be your partner’s role.
It’s a steep learning curve.
That’s where owning the responsibility for how you are showing up (as much as you can manage) and embracing opportunities to nurture your relationship with your child (as much as you can face it today) can make all the difference.
Parenting might have felt like moving along the familiar tracks: you had your role, the practical tasks that were normally yours to do and the situations that you were the go to person for. There might have been areas of upbringing your child you were hardly involved in, like cooking their favourite pasta or taking them to football on Saturday mornings.
There is an upside to that unsettling state of not being able to rely on the old tracks any more: it offers an opportunity to take stock of your parenting and your relationship with your child.
Is it how you would love it to be?
Are you feeling comfortable in this relationship?
Do you feel like you can be… you?
Does it make sense to you?
Do you feel confident about your ability to meet your children’s needs?
Focusing on nurturing your relationship with your child might be the wisest use of your time and energy right now. You might discover the parts of each other you never knew were there. You might come up with an easier, more enjoyable and fulfilling way of relating with each other, now and in the years to come.
This could be the best outcome of your separation.