This is the second blog in our series for February and in order to try to have a positive note on the blog we wanted to focus on finding light at the end of tunnel. We know that it’s often hard to feel like there might be light at the end of the tunnel during a separation. It can certainly feel like you might never find it at points. We have often talked about how feeling stuck can be the worse feeling because you feel like you may never move forward, and be free of your current difficulties.
So the aim of this blog series is to look at what positives there might be in the future following your separation. You can look at the introduction to this blog. In this blog we’re looking at the potential positives in your relationship with your child or children. Many parents that talk to us following their separation worry about the effect it might have on their children and this is entirely understandable. As a general rule it is being caught up in conflict that affects children as opposed to the separation itself. Children can and do adapt to the new situation where they are supported and reassured by both parents, and can see that both their parents are OK and are still their parents (so they can work together as parents to support their children).
But there may be changes in your relationship with your children as a result of your separation. Firstly, your children may have always been with you save for when they were at school or nursery, but now they will not always be with you. Sometimes they will be with the other parent and this is an adjustment you will both need to make. It can be hard to let your children go and know that there are times when they are not with you. It’s often hard coming back to an empty home and not being able to see them in bed. Many parents feel a physical pain at not being able to kiss their children goodnight and to not know what they’re up to all the time. It can help to share photos with the other parent when your children are with you. This reassures the other parent that the children are OK, and helps them to have a window into what is happening with the other parent. It also shows your children that their other parent is still able to delight in things they’re doing even when they’re not with them. This is often reassuring for children who can worry that the other parent might be cross if they have done something with the other parent they were going to do together. Children often pick up on tension between their parents more than parents realise. They are hardwired into this because their survival depends on their parents from birth.
Secondly, parenting on your own means you may have to do all the parts of parenting. Perhaps previously you had not been the parent who set boundaries or disciplined the children, and you are now having to learn to do this as part of your children being with you. Maybe you absolutely hate maths and so you always gave the maths homework or home schooling to the other parent and now maths seems to always fall on the day your children are with you. It’s also the case that when you felt exhausted and tired and that you had nothing left to give, you may have been able to ask the other parent to take over when you were together. You may now not be able to do this because you’re living separately. The bad news is that this can be exhausting and it’s important to look after yourself to prevent this overwhelming you. Do things that nourish you when the children are with their other parent – even if it’s only for 30 minutes because you have work or other commitments during this time. Try to restore yourself if you can. The good news is that it can really strengthen your relationship with your children and we have always been struck by how many parents tell us their relationship with their children is much better for having separated from their child’s other parent.
Perhaps previously you were always tied up with working long hours/ house renovations / a hobby / other commitments and whilst you saw your children and were there in the family you didn’t spend much quality time with your children. The separation means you will now be doing that and you notice how it has impacted and improved your relationship.
Lastly, perhaps you didn’t talk about your emotions with your children previously but the emotions you have all been through recently as part of a grief process have meant you have had to talk about this. You have helped your children to name their feelings and to talk about how they have felt at each stage and this has been an important part of your learning together – even if it’s been tough.
Stay tuned for the blogs. In between the blogs if you’d like additional guidance then would our new FREE 30 minute video on better communication help you and your ex partner better manage your separation? Our clients often say that communication is one of the biggest issues – after all if you can talk about problems together you can usually resolve them.
We also have the online community Soulful Separation Support where you can get support from others going through a separation and professionals like us. It’s a closed community so only those in the group can see what’s said.